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Milky Way Is Less Massive (But No Less Beautiful) Than Previously Believed

Science By

New findings presented at the Canadian Astronomical Society conference show that the Milky Way galaxy has less mass than what astronomers previously believed. Specifically, our galaxy’s mass is equivalent to that of 700 billion suns (previous estimates were more like 1 trillion.) Researchers from McMaster University, who used a new modeling method, also reported that the Milky Way contains more dark matter than was previously calculated. These findings help improve researchers’ understanding of our galaxy’s past and future. Read more about the new measurements here. To honor the new findings, RealClearLife has curated five beautiful portraits of our galaxy.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark Gee/theartofnight/Solen/REX/Shutterstock (5445105c) Giraffes beneath the stars and Milky Way Milky Way and stars above the Masai Mara, Kenya, Africa - Nov 2015 These striking images capture the Milky Way in stunning detail due to the lack of light pollution. The series of images, captured by astrophotographer Mark Gee, were taken in Africa and display the silhouettes of trees and giraffes and used exposure times of 30 seconds. Mark was given special permission to head into the Masai Mara at night to take the photographs. He was not alone and had a guide as well as a spotter with him to be able to take the images. Mark said: "Africa has very little light pollution and because of this the night sky is insanely beautiful. But photographing here at night isn't straight forward AS standing out in the middle of the bush in the dark by yourself with a camera isn't really advisable.
Trees and giraffes silhouetted by the Milky Way in Masai Mara, Kenya. (Mark Gee/theartofnight/Solent/REX/Shutterstock)
MANDATORY CREDIT: Stephen Ippolito/REX Shutterstock. Only for use in this story. Editorial Use Only. Strictly no stock, books, advertising or merchandising without photographer's permission. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Stephen Ippolito/REX/Shutterstock (5048076o) The Milky Way pictured above Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona. During the 30-second exposure used to capture this photo several bolts of lightening lit up the sky Seal photobombs milky way, America - 14 Aug 2015 FULL COPY: http://www.rexfeatures.com/nanolink/qypq A photographer captured the incredible moment a seal photo-bombed a shot of the Milky Way. Photographer Stephen Ippolito, 45, regularly takes photos of the Milky Way, and was pleasantly surprised to see a seal photo-bombing his perfect shot. Stephen was setting up his camera, whilst waiting for friends to arrive, when he saw something moving on the sand. To his surprise it was a seal, basking on the sand. The seal began to waddle closer to Stephen and he decide to capture the perfect moment.
The Milky Way pictured above Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona. (Stephen Ippolito/REX Shutterstock)
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dylan Arnold/REX/Shutterstock (5140293a) Milky Way and a starry night sky above Dolbadarn Castle Starry sky and the Milky Way above Dolbadarn Castle, Llanberis, Snowdonia, Wales - 15 Sep 2015
Starry sky and the Milky Way above Dolbadarn Castle in Llanberis, Wales. (Dylan Arnold/REX/Shutterstock)
CREDIT: Drew Buckley/Rex Shutterstock Mandatory Credit: Photo by Drew Buckley/REX/Shutterstock (5674220a) Milky Way in sky over Broad Haven with Church Rock in sea Milky Way captured above Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire, Britain - 05 May 2016 Photographer Drew Buckley captured this stunning image in the "early hours" of Thursday (5 Apr). He says: "The Milky Way streaks across the sky at Broad Haven in Pembrokeshire with the iconic Church Rock out to sea. Also pictured is Saturn and Mars, while the fainter point of light under them is Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius."
Milky Way captured over Broad Haven, with Church Rock in foreground, in Pembrokeshire, Britain. (Drew Buckley/REX/Shutterstock)
MANDATORY CREDIT: Stephen Ippolito/REX/Shutterstock. Only for use in this story. Editorial Use Only. Strictly no stock, books, advertising or merchandising without photographer's permission. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Stephen Ippolito/REX/Shutterstock (5048076p) Milky Way in Cabot, Vermount. This photo is a single 30-second-exposure Seal photobombs milky way, America - 14 Aug 2015 FULL COPY: http://www.rexfeatures.com/nanolink/qypq A photographer captured the incredible moment a seal photo-bombed a shot of the Milky Way. Photographer Stephen Ippolito, 45, regularly takes photos of the Milky Way, and was pleasantly surprised to see a seal photo-bombing his perfect shot. Stephen was setting up his camera, whilst waiting for friends to arrive, when he saw something moving on the sand. To his surprise it was a seal, basking on the sand. The seal began to waddle closer to Stephen and he decide to capture the perfect moment.
30-second-exposure of the Milky Way photographed from a barn in Cabot, Vermount. (Stephen Ippolito/REX/Shutterstock)