The Milky Way

What is the warp in the Milky Way galaxy?

Alas, unlike certain popular science fiction shows, the “warp factor” in the Milky Way is not a way to travel faster than the speed of light. The disk of the Milky Way galaxy is actually not perfectly flat. Aside from its slight thickness, it is also somewhat warped in sort of the same way a spinning pizza crust tossed into the air warps and wobbles as it rotates. Of course, since our galaxy is far bigger than a pizza, the warp takes millions of years to make its way around the disk even once.

Astronomers think that the gravitational effects of one or more dwarf galaxies falling into the much larger Milky Way caused the warp. Such a relatively small impact would not destroy the disk structure of our galaxy, but could have caused the disk to buckle a little bit.


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