According to the new map of the Milky Way galaxy, the solar system is not where we thought it was. Not only is it closer to the center of the galaxy and the supermassive hole in it, Sagittarius A *, but it also spins faster.
The authors reassure us that we have nothing to worry about – we are not really approaching Sgr A *, and we are not in danger of being absorbed. Rather, our map of the Milky Way has been corrected to determine more precisely where we have been all along.
And the review shows how difficult it is to map the Galaxy in three dimensions. This is a problem that has long disrupted our understanding of cosmic phenomena. It is relatively easy to map two-dimensional coordinates of stars and other space objects, but the distance to these objects is much harder to determine.
And distances are important – they help us to determine the internal brightness of objects. A good recent example of this is the red giant star Betelgeuse, which was closer to the Earth than previous measurements suggested. This means that it is not as big and not as bright as we thought it would be.
The new map is made using data from Vera Radio Astrometry, which uses a number of radio telescopes throughout the Japanese archipelago. Measurements based on VERA showed that we are 2,000 light years closer to a black hole in the center of the Milky Way. The orbital velocity of the Solar System is also higher, at 227 kilometers per second, rather than 220 as previously thought.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)