This map suggested that the center of the Milky Way and the black hole there were 25,800 light-years from Earth. This is closer to the official value of 27,700 light-years adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1985, the Japan National Observatory said.
In addition, according to the map, our solar system is traveling at a speed of 227 kilometers per second while orbiting the galactic center – which is faster than the official 220 seconds per second value, the announcement added.
Because the Earth is located within the Milky Way, it’s hard to step back and see what the galaxy looks like. To circumvent this, the project used astrometry, an accurate measurement of the position and movement of objects, to understand the general structure of the Milky Way and the location of the Earth.
A more precise approach
In August, VERA released its first catalog of 99 celestial objects. Based on recent observations from this catalog and other groups, astronomers have prepared a position and velocity map. From this map, scientists were able to calculate the center of the galaxy, the point around which everything revolves.
VERA combines data from four radio telescopes across Japan. The observatory said that when combined, the binoculars were able to achieve a resolution that would theoretically allow astronomers to spot a U.S. penny placed on the surface of the moon.
To be clear, the changes don’t mean the Earth will fall toward the black hole, the observatory said. Rather, the map more accurately identifies where the Solar System was.