Milky Way’s far side reveals some secrets

Discovery of “variable stars” could help astronomers map dark matter in the galaxy

By Christopher Crockett, 13:47 PM May 14, 2014

Beyond the galaxy’s center lie mostly uncharted swaths of space. But now astronomers have found some landmarks: five stars roughly 75,000 light-years from Earth. The discovery should help astronomers map the largely unexplored far side of the Milky Way and understand the nature of the enigmatic dark matter thought to hold galaxies together.

The five stars are all Cepheid variables, whose brightness fluctuates steadily. Astronomers use Cepheids as distance markers because the brighter the star,...

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