Home Technology The Milky Way may be disintegrating scientists: the spiral arms “break” and the stars are “escape” at a rapid rate | Milky Way | Disintegration | Scientists | Spiral Arms | Fractures | Stars |

The Milky Way may be disintegrating scientists: the spiral arms “break” and the stars are “escape” at a rapid rate | Milky Way | Disintegration | Scientists | Spiral Arms | Fractures | Stars |

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The Milky Way may be disintegrating scientists: the spiral arms “break” and the stars are “escape” at a rapid rate | Milky Way | Disintegration | Scientists | Spiral Arms | Fractures | Stars |

[Voice of Hope, October 11, 2022](Editor: Guo Xiao)Humans have always been interested in space exploration. Since ancient times, with curiosity about the mysterious and unknown space of the universe, human beings have invented various astronomical observation tools. Especially in modern times, from telescopes to radio astronomical observations, human beings have gradually learned about astronomical laws and various ray signal waves in the universe, and tried to understand the origin and fundamental principles of the universe. With the rapid development of aerospace technology, people have been able to truly set foot in the universe, only to realize that human beings are only a drop in the ocean and insignificant in the universe. Even with the highest technological level of human beings, they cannot fly into the solar system in which they are located; and the solar system is just an inconspicuous galaxy on the edge of the wider galaxy.

Map of the Sun’s position in the Milky Way (public domain)

Over the years, with the in-depth observation and research of the Milky Way, scientists have also found that the scope of the Milky Way is constantly expanding, and has increased by about 50% so far. The Milky Way is made up of four spiral arms 4,500 light-years apart, surrounded by two companion galaxies, also dwarf galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Small Magellanic Cloud. One day in the future, the Milky Way will swallow them all together. In the past, scientists have always believed that the Milky Way is a very stable structure, because since the existence of dark matter was confirmed in the 1970s, scientists have realized that dark matter is like the “skeleton” of the universe, maintaining the stability of the universe. Galaxies are also able to operate stably under the action of dark matter and continue to grow.

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However, some time ago, scientists discovered that the Sagittarius spiral arm of the Milky Way is “breaking”, and many stars on this spiral arm are rapidly “escape” from the Milky Way. It can be said that with its “break”, it seems that the Milky Way is disintegrating, and this spiral arm will be completely separated from the Milky Way in the future. Obviously, under the action of dark matter, the Milky Way is a very stable system. Why is there an abnormal situation where the spiral arms “break”? In this regard, some researchers believe that this may not be a “break”, but a new branch “spiral arm”. In short, the Milky Way is not disintegrating but has increased in scope. Through modeling analysis, although these stars appear to “escape” from the spiral arms of Sagittarius, they maintain a very obvious angle.

The Milky Way's Sagittarius Arm is 'breaking'
One of the Milky Way’s spiral arms is ‘breaking’ (Image: NASA)

It was as if a big tree had grown a new branch. Moreover, when comparing other large galaxies, the researchers also found similar “break” structures. If this has nothing to do with the disintegration of large galaxies, then it is the normal development of large galaxies in the universe. So, will the Milky Way disintegrate? In about 3 billion to 4 billion years, the Milky Way will collide with the Andromeda galaxy, which is now accelerating toward the Milky Way. However, strictly speaking, the Milky Way is not “disintegration”, but “recombination”, because when the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy collide, they will merge into one to form a larger galaxy, when the sun and some of the remaining planets will stop at a distance of 67,000 light-years from the center of the new galaxy.

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However, the earth will inevitably be affected by this catastrophe engulfed by the collision. As for whether the Milky Way is powerful or the Andromeda Galaxy is more powerful, scientists cannot give a clear answer at present. Because human beings have not fully understood the Milky Way so far, such as the broken spiral arm that scared many people this time. Since the current observation range is still very limited, and cognition also needs to go through a tortuous process to improve, so to determine which galaxy is stronger, we can only know when the future observation technology is more sophisticated.

Responsible editor: Li Jingrou

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