The new mysteries of the Milky Way

Looking up on a beautiful starry night, we can see in the sky the luminous path that it traces there and which has earned it its name of Milky Way. We think we know our galaxy well and yet we only have a very partial view of it: as we cannot look at it from the outside, we do not know for sure what it looks like.

“The problem with our galaxy is that we are inside its disk and therefore it is difficult to understand its overall structure, Eleonora Zari, of the Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy and co-author of a recent study on her, confirmed to It’s like you’re in a forest and looking around. At one point, the trees are in front of each other. Plus the forest is a bit hazy so you can’t really see what the whole forest looks like. “

As a result, our knowledge of the Milky Way is fragmented. We do not even know how many stars it really contains: current calculations are linked to an estimate of its total mass and the figures vary between 100 and 400 billion suns. But science is advancing, mainly thanks to observation satellites that collect valuable data. Since 2013, the Gaia mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) has been trying, for example, to map all these stars with their distance and precise position. But if its results are admirable, they do not represent

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