As if the year 2020 was not ‘unprecedented’ enough, astronomers have learned that the Earth is in fact 2,000 light-years closer to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way than was previously thought.
Moreover, our solar system is pushing through space at seven kilometers per second faster than scientists had calculated.
The stellar discoveries are thanks to a new and improved map of the Milky Way, published this week and based on observations gathered from the Japanese Astronomy Project over the past 15 years, along with other recent data.
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One light-year equals 9.5 trillion kilometers, so while it may seem at first as though the end is near, scientists have emphasized that there is no reason to worry about Earth’s repeated proximity to Sagittarius A *.
Instead of spelling out impending doom, the new modeling allows scientists to determine the Earth’s position within the galaxy with a greater degree of accuracy.
Our newly drawn Milky Way galaxy is the result of observations from telescopes across Japan, which make up the “Vera” radio astronomy project. Established in the year 2000, VERA stands for VLBI (Very Long Basic Interferometry) exploration for radio astronomy.
The project uses “ interferometry ” technology to combine data from multiple telescopes across Japan, creating ultra-high definition resolution of 10 microseconds – in other words, it’s focused enough on spotting a coin on the surface of the moon.
The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan revealed Thursday that its astronomers, along with other groups, have produced a “Site and Speed Map” That they used to calculate the center of the galaxy.
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Astronomers have said that this galactic center is 25,800 light-years from Earth – about 2,000 light-years closer than the International Astronomical Union’s official distance of 27,700 light-years, which it settled on in 1985.
As 2020 continues to move at breakneck speeds, the new map also led astronomers to discover that the Earth is already orbiting the center of the Milky Way at 227 km / s, rather than the slower official speed of 220 km / s.
Researchers at VERA are now trying to create more detailed maps of the region near the central supermassive black hole, using telescope data from Japan, South Korea and China.
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