According to a new measurement, Milky Way has the mass of 700 billion Suns.
The new calculation was presented at a Canadian Astronomical Society conference in Winnipeg. The Milky Way contains the same amount of mass as 700 billion suns. And that puts it on the leaner side of the scale.
The study also shows that our galaxy contains more dark elements than shown till now. This mysterious invisible substance exists in a cloud around the Milky Way.
Now the question is “how much the Milky Way currently weighs?”
“Understanding our galaxy’s mass puts it into a better cosmological context,” says study leader Gwendolyn Eadie. “For starters, the rate at which stars in any given galaxy form, exist, and die seems to be tied to the overall mass of the galaxy.
“People who study the evolution of galaxies look at how the mass relates to its evolution,” says Eadie. “If we have a better handle on what the mass of the Milky Way is, we can understand how it and other galaxies form and evolve.”
According to Ms. Eadie, the Milky Way is 7 x 1011 solar masses. Our Sun, for the record, has 330,000 times the mass of the Earth. The Sun weighs two nonillions (2 followed by 30 zeroes) kilograms.
Eadie, a Ph.D. candidate in physics and astronomy at McMaster University, has been studying the mass of the Milky Way and its dark matter component since she started graduate school. She uses the velocities and positions of globular star clusters that orbit the Milky Way.
Galaxy’s gravity determines the orbits of globular clusters. It is dictated by its massive dark matter component. What’s new about Eadie’s research is the technique she devised for using globular cluster (GCs) velocities.
Eadie and her academic supervisor William Harris have co-authored a paper on their most recent findings. It allows dark matter and visible matter to have different distributions in space. They have submitted this work to the Astrophysical Journal.