Scientist: Milky Way Galaxy’s Mass Is “Slenderer” Than Expected

Beijing, – A research team consisting of Chinese and foreign scientists has accurately measured the mass of the Milky Way galaxy and revealed that its mass is leaner than expected, which is about 550 billion times the mass of the sun.

The results were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society recently.

The latest estimate of the mass of the Milky Way galaxy is almost half of the average value measured by other research teams, which is recorded at about 1 trillion times the mass of the sun.

“Our latest results suggest that the Milky Way galaxy may be ‘slenderer’ than we previously thought,” said Xue Xiangxiang, a lead member of the research team and a researcher with the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC).

“This means there is much less dark matter that is not luminous but has a gravitational force in the galaxy than initially thought.”

Xue said the mass is very important for understanding the dynamics of the Milky Way galaxy. However, there is a high degree of uncertainty in the estimates due to limited observations.

In the study, the team of scientists drew conclusions based on data from the Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST), China’s leading optical telescope, and the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite.

The large sample of spectroscopic data provided by LAMOST is one of the main advantages of this study over studies from other research teams, Xue said.

“Not only is it large in number and scope, the sample also records the three-dimensional (3D) position, 3D velocity, and amount of metal of each star,” Xue explained.

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The research team included scientists from China Three Gorges University (CTGU), NAOC, Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.


(As’ad Syamsul Abidin)

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