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Milky Way faster and heavier than thought

2009/02/05

  02:31:04 pm, by   , 161 words  
Categories: Saturn

Milky Way faster and heavier than thought

from: http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/2455/milky-way-spins-faster-has-more-mass-thought

WASHINGTON DC: The Milky Way is spinning much faster and has 50 per cent more mass than previously believed, increasing the chance of a collision with another galaxy, say astronomers.

An international team of researchers have used ten telescopes spread out between Hawaii, the Caribbean and the northeastern United States to determine that the Milky Way is rotating at a speed of 161,000 km/h faster than previously thought.

Gravitational pull

That increase in speed boosts the Milky Way's mass by 50 per cent, said Mark Reid, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, in research presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting this week in Long Beach, California.

"No longer will we think of the Milky Way as the little sister of the Andromeda Galaxy," he said.

The larger mass, however, also means that the galaxy has a greater gravitational pull, which heightens the likelihood of collisions with the Andromeda galaxy or smaller nearby galaxies, Reid said.

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