Our Milky Way Galaxy weighs about 1.5 trillion solar masses, astronomers predicted using the Hubble Space Telescope and European Space Agency’s Gaia mission.
The new data predicted by astronomers is one of the most fundamental measurements, but widely disagreed in the science community.
Previous estimates predicted the mass of the Milky way ranged from 500 billion to three trillion times the mass of the Sun. The new estimates puts the weight at 1.5 trillion solar masses within a radius of 129,000 light-years from the galactic centre. In human terms the weight is 3,000 trillion trillion trillion tonnes.
The measurement, the most accurate yet, covers all the stars and planets, dust and gas, and the supermassive black hole that sits at the centre.
The uncertainty of the dark matter detected directly constitutes 85 percent of the weight. Laura Watkins led the team performing the analysis said, “We just can’t detect dark matter directly. That’s what leads to the present uncertainty in the Milky Way’s mass, you can’t measure accurately what you can’t see.”
The team employed clever methods to weigh the milky way galaxy, the method relied on velocities of globular clusters. A massive galaxy moves it’s clusters faster under the pull of its gravity.