The Milky Way galaxy remains a massive conundrum even today, whether we like to admit it or not. Astronomers want to uncover its true origins, and they have a new plan for that. The William Herschel Telescope (WHT) from La Palma (Spain) has an altitude of over 2,300 meters, and it will play an important part in the upcoming quest.
According to the BBC, scientists have improved the WHT with a new device in order to make it more capable of revealing the evolution of our Milky Way galaxy over billions of years. The main scientific estimation is that the Milky Way is 13.61 billion years old, meaning almost as old as the Universe itself.
Surveying 1,000 stars per hour
The WHT will be equipped with a powerful mapping device known as ‘Weave’ that will make the gear capable of surveying 1,000 stars per hour, such as the velocity and composition of those bright objects. Weave stands for WHT Enhanced Area Velocity Explorer. A total of 5 million stars will be surveyed.
Dr. Marc Balcells explained for the BBC:
We have been hearing for decades that we are in a golden era of astronomy – but what the future awaits is a lot more important.
Weave is going to be answering questions that astronomers have been trying to answer for decades such as how many pieces come together to make a big galaxy and how many galaxies were united to make the Milky Way.
The Milky Way galaxy is estimated to contain roughly 200 billion stars, which means that 5 million remains a low number. The diameter of our galaxy is 100,000 light-years across, which means that it would take 100,000 years to go from one of its edges to the opposite one with a spacecraft capable of achieving the speed of light. Of course, such a speed is impossible, and nobody can live that long as far as we know, but who knows what science will be capable of in the future?