The Distance to the Perseus Spiral Arm in the Milky Way

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Science  06 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5757, pp. 54-57
DOI: 10.1126/science.1120914

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We have measured the distance to the massive star–forming region W3OH in the Perseus spiral arm of the Milky Way to be 1.95 ± 0.04 kiloparsecs (5.86 ×1016 km). This distance was determined by triangulation, with Earth's orbit as one segment of a triangle, using the Very Long Baseline Array. This resolves the long-standing problem that there is a discrepancy of a factor of 2 between different techniques used to determine distances. The reason for the discrepancy is that this portion of the Perseus arm has anomalous motions. The orientation of the anomalous motion agrees with spiral density-wave theory, but the magnitude of the motion is somewhat larger than most models predict.

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