Astronomers measure Milky Way’s ‘warp speed’

Chinese astronomers have discovered that the warp in the Milky Way’s spiral disk is moving backwards under the influence of the enormous mass of dark matter that forms an invisible halo around our galaxy.

About a third of all spiral galaxies have a distinct curvature in their disc-shaped structure, like a vinyl record that has been bent. It is usually the result of several factors; a collision with another galaxy has historically been thought to be the main culprit for the curvature of the Milky Way, but further interactions with satellite galaxies and the intergalactic magnetic fieldas well as the invasion of huge clouds of gas, can also play their role. However, in the case of the Milky Way in any case, the most important player in maintaining the warp is the dark matter halo that surrounds the disk and exerts a torque on it.

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