back to article Our Milky Way galaxy is INSIDE OUT. Just as we suspected, mutter boffins

New data from the European Space Agency's Gaia-ESO project has confirmed that the Milky Way galaxy grew from the inside out, backing up theories espoused in the standard model of the Big Bang. On-edge view of the Milky Way's star formation Right after the Universe exploded into existence, it was made up almost entirely of …


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  1. TRT Silver badge

    " inside the orbit of the Sun at the centre of the galaxy"

    Wow! Our star is the centre of the galaxy?

    1. SuddenlyJelly

      Haha and if the big bang really happened we wouldn't have granite. That theory is full of more holes than Spongebob.

      1. if6ws9

        If the BB didn't happen then what's your opinion?

        1. SuddenlyJelly

          Well I don't believe in the Big Bang I'll tell you that. How did this become such a believed theory? It has glaring "plot holes". I think just settling on the BB is lazy science.

          1. MrDamage


            If you want to see glaring plot holes, then look no further than the fictional texts upon which stone age superstitions and desert derived dogmas are based on. Most of them cant even make it out of the prologue without plot holes and retcons.

          2. Thorne

            "Well I don't believe in the Big Bang I'll tell you that. How did this become such a believed theory? It has glaring "plot holes". I think just settling on the BB is lazy science."

            Don't tell me you go for the "God made it in six days" theory?

            1. if6ws9

              That's what I suspect but he's side stepping the question of what he hangs his hat on if its not the BB theory. Funny how their default answer to an incomplete theory is always a supernatural source.

          3. if6ws9

            That doesn't answer my question.

          4. Bunbury

            Just because a theory has weaknesses does not make it invalid as long as it is the best fitting theory to the facts. While I don't understand the physics involved, I can appreciate that it may be the best fit to the data at hand. I understand (from a programme on the telly, which I watched to the end emerging with a pathetic sense of smugness as if I'd worked it all out myself instead of sitting there like a gormless idiot) that a number of scientists working in the field no longer believe that the actual bang occurred. Unclear whether a successor theory will emerge it seems - we see but through a mirror darkly.

            I particularly struggle with the concept that everything in the universe emerged from a very small space and yet if you tried that now you'd just have a massive black hole. Or perhaps similar things do occur now and become black holes. Presumably it's that we don't have enough data to form a theory that's correct. In the same way that 19th century scientists struggled to understand the power source of the sun "it surely can't be coal, as it would have burned out by now"

            1. if6ws9

              Good post, btw. I don't have a problem with an alternate theory to the BB; its that its just that I suspected the non-believer (in the BB) was omitting something that might reveal a non-scientific bias.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "everything in the universe emerged from a very small space"

              That's because you are looking at it wrong. You seem (unless I have misunderstood you) to think that spacetime existed, and the Big Bang expanded into spacetime.

              It didn't. Spacetime resulted from the Big Bang. The "size" of the universe at the BB is really a meaningless concept, like the tangent of 90 degrees. The present universe has lots of spacetime, and matter can fall into a small part of it and make a black hole. The BB universe had no spacetime and was at an incomprehensible temperature and pressure, so there was no Higgs field, no particles to feel one if it existed, and so no gravitational force to constrain it against the pressure for expansion.

              Physicists tend not to dwell on this stuff, but the numbers are impressive. In the inflationary theory, the size of the universe at the end of inflation is about that of a marble, which is not what I imagine most casual readers think. This is also the order of magnitude of the size that just our Sun would be if it condensed into a black hole.

              1. johnnymotel

                Re: "everything in the universe emerged from a very small space"

                I agree, the way I could see it is higher energy levels equal more compactness. As the energy levels rise so maybe even 'particles' disappear. How much energy can be packed into an infinitesimally small space?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "everything in the universe emerged from a very small space"

                  In fact, there is a theory of how the particles appear and disappear at different energies. As things cool off after the BB, particles appear due to processes called "symmetry breaking". As soon as the energy level is high enough that there isn't any spacetime, the question how much energy you can hold in your universe becomes immaterial. (pun)

                  This is why currently inflation is needed - somehow some handwaving has to produce an expansion faster than the speed of light to get to a size at which the universe can expand into its present form. Despite the speed of the expansion, at the end of it the universe is still conveniently pocket sized, assuming your pocket is rather rad-hard and very shortlived.

          5. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Yeah cause some Old Man with a really long beard thought it was time to put on the Lights so he could read the Daily Fail.

      2. Tinker Tailor Soldier

        Of course, Polonium cannot exist!

        Believe the commentard was referring to then following quasi-science:

        However, of course, nuclear synthesis cannot possibly happen in nature. (209Bi can capture a proton to produce 210Bi and decay to 210Po). Which can be quickly looked up here:

        But then fundamentalists were never known for their critical thinking abilities... or ability to understand math. By the same logic, He3 couldn't exist either.

        Nuclear explosion 'cos this is all about nuclei...

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Of course, Polonium cannot exist!

          I think just settling on the BB is lazy

          That's right, I'm totally down with the WinPho theory. There are just two or three other retards with me here, room's pretty empty. We can have a beer, talk smack ...

        2. Tinker Tailor Soldier

          Re: Of course, Polonium cannot exist!


          Polonium captures a NEUTRON and then following quasi-science should be THE following quasi-science.

    2. Johan Bastiaansen

      No, if our sun was the centre of the galaxy, the sun wouldn't orbit in the galaxy.

      The central part of the galaxy is defined as the space inside the orbit of the sun.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Centre of the galaxy...

        well if it said "central part of the galaxy" in the article... but it doesn't. It says centre. To me, that's a point.

        And as regards centres of orbits, they can be terribly complicated things and can move around relative to something else. For example the centre of the moon's orbit is inside the Earth, but it's not the centre of the Earth.

        The point I was making with my first post in this thread is that the article could be more clearly written.

  2. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It's just a theory!!!

    And a bloody good one at that.

    Thanks astro-boffins, enjoy a cup of tea, and maybe a Milky Way.

    1. AbelSoul

      Re: Milky Way

      The treat you can eat between meals without ruining your appetite?

      Sod that; go for a (different) Galaxy. Preferably the family sized slab of creamy, low in cocoa solids but still far too more-ish, chocolatey goodness.

      1. Wilseus

        Re: Milky Way

        Ugh. Galaxy, probably the worst "chocolate" I have ever tasted, with a flavour that's a cross between wet cardboard and cheap coffee whitener.

        1. Psyx

          "probably the worst "chocolate" I have ever tasted"

          Not had Hersheys, then?

          1. Wilseus

            Not had Hersheys, then?

            No, I've managed to avoid that particular pleasure!

            1. dssf

              Re: Not had Hersheys, then? (Cover your keyboard first...) Fortunately, the Galaxy was not...

              Fortunately, the Galaxy was not named "Hershey's"

              Otherwise, everything would be derived from Hershey Squirts, hahahaha...

            2. kiwimuso

              Re: Not had Hersheys, then?

              Or Cadburys Dairy Milk made in Australia?

              1. Ed_UK

                Re: Not had Hersheys, then?

                "Or Cadburys Dairy Milk made in Australia?"

                Yay - it's not just me then. I tried it on a visit to Oz in the 1990s. Familiar wrapper but it was like trying to each a choc-flavoured ceramic tile. We speculated that maybe Cadbury's modified the recipe to tolerate the higher temperatures than Blighty's. However, I think I once saw a FAQ section on their website which said that they didn't tweak their recipes. Maybe I've just forgotten.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's just a theory!!!

      Tim Minchin gave the definitive response to this 'it's just a theory' nonsense, albeit originally in relation to religious nuts stock argument against the theory of evolution. I think the same sentiment applies;

      "... which is true, it is a theory, it’s good that they say that, I think, it gives you hope, doesn’t it, that - that maybe they feel the same way about the theory of gravity… and then they might just float the f**k away."

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    All that metal!!

    Where is Mittal?

    1. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: All that metal!!

      I know it's a joke, but it should probably be pointed out that in astronomy "metal" refers to any element which isn't hydrogen or helium.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: All that metal!!

        There's a question mark over Helium, as well.... ;)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: All that metal!!

          And hydrogen, which should be the first metal in the sequence H-Li-Na-K-Cs-Rb-Fr.

          Metal is a wonderful word, extremely useful in everyday life but very hard to pin down in actual chemistry.

  4. Semtex451 Silver badge

    Grew, Inside out etc


    There's a good deal of fairly misleading terms used in this article.

    Though I do appreciate it is difficult to articulate with out said terms, I'm sure you could do better.


  5. Frank Bough

    Horrible Infographic


  6. Khaptain Silver badge

    Many dimensions

    I always like to imagine the universe as a torus who's centre is very small and who's outside edges are very very distant. Things evolve/revolve along it's various axes permanently, thereby giving the universe a cyclic nature.

    What's here today is gone tommorrow but back again the day after ( on a universal scale that is).

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Many dimensions

      "I always like to imagine the universe as a torus"

      Unless the Big Bang happened in March in which case it might be a Pisces...

      1. Def Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Many dimensions

        I am ashamed to admit I laughed at that. Damn you.

        Paris, because she has no shame.

    2. Scott Broukell

      Re: Many dimensions


      Or what about a simultaneous miniscule spherical (oblate) surface, within, a massively larger spherical (oblate) surface and replace the euclidean topography of the torus with pathways that continue each surface infinitely, as you suggest, but via black holes, contorting and compressing the field-lines of space time endlessly along said 'conveyor belt'. The 4% of matter we can account for, which includes ourselves and all observable galaxies, being made up merely from the exhaust / pollution / remnants, call it what you will, of the sudden massive inflation which befell the quark-gluon plasma that hung around for a relatively short while after an instability / perturbation set in on the singularity, that may or may not itself, have resulted from a prior super-massively-tiny universe, having reached a (near) perfect entropic state of pure photons only to find itself ripped apart by the fact that space-time cannot tolerate a static 'conveyor belt', whichever direction it is traveling in. That's my take on it.

      1. Sir Sham Cad

        Re: That's my take on it.

        You'll be disappointed to know that your high entropy collection of pseudo-scientific jargon is just a lot of made up bollocks.

        Inflationary cosmology explains why the shape of the universe we observe is flat (read: Euclidean so your toroids etc... are right out), the extremely rapid expansion caused by the collapse of the energy density of the inflaton field (no plasma of any kind as there was no matter at all prior to this point, it's all quantum fields) drove the matter density of the universe to equal the critical energy density predicted to give us a flat universe.

        In terms of where the perturbation came from that set the inflaton field off on its rapid tumble towards (nearly) zero energy, simple quantum fluctuations were enough. Same as for the Higgs field that gave a meaning to a "mass" property.

        In terms of where the matter came from, remember matter and energy are the same. As the inflaton field collapsed it drew energy from the negative gravity causing the inflation of space as it was shedding that energy as matter and radiation so the more space expanded the more mass/energy the inflaton field could dump into space. To the point where an original mass in the universe before inflation of 2.1601 Jub would account for all that we see in the universe including the "Dark" stuff.

        So we have an original, tiny lump of spacetime containing only quantum fields at high energy. Quantum jitters go jitter and we have a amazingly rapid period of expansion creating all matter and energy in the universe. As gravity starts to have an effect this expansion slows down and astrophysical processes start making galaxies and all the good stuff. Right up until the point that space expanded so much that the negative gravity left over from the inflaton field having non-zero energy is enough to overcome the gravity that slowed the expansion and, right now, it's on the increase again.

        Also, this article references "Standard Big Bang Theory" but the processes involved occur after the effects of Inflationary Theory therefore don't actually speak to Standard Theory versus Inflationary Theory.

        Right, even I'm bored of this post now. To The Pub!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's my take on it.

          There are some real physicists who publish proper peer reviewed papers who have doubts about inflation. It seems highly improbable, too much like a post hoc explanation.

          Unless you believe that, just as the BB was happening, God put her sink plunger on top of the universe and then pulled it up really, really quickly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Many dimensions

        Come back amanfrommars! we need something we can understand at 6pm on friday.

        Oh dear, it's Thursday.

        Arrgh! I used to understand this.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Many dimensions

      ... a torus who's centre

      ... and who's outside edges

      ... along it's various axes

      Please put all the apostrophes back in their boxes until you learn how to use them. Thanks.

    4. Andy Davies

      Re: Many dimensions

      I think that what you are trying to say is: what goes around comes around?

  7. Alister Silver badge

    I must be reading this wrongly...

    Gaia's evidence shows that older, metal-poor stars inside the orbit of the Sun at the centre of the galaxy are far more likely to have high levels of magnesium

    So if there are stars inside the orbit of the Sun at the centre of the galaxy, how can it be "The Sun at the centre of the galaxy"?

    1. Psyx

      I think they missed out a crucial coma.

      Who said us grammar-nazis are too picky, eh?

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        I think they missed out a crucial coma.

        Like the one you were in when writing your post?

        (McKean's Law and all that)

    2. Johan Bastiaansen

      You're right, you're reading it wrongly.

  8. Stevie Silver badge


    I see no mention of past galactic collisions messing up the maths. These were supposed to have happened so recently that the Milky Way's no-claims bonus is still wiped out according to last weeks "scientists".

    1. Tom 260

      Re: Bah!

      There seems to be a debate as to whether a galactic collision can result in a spiral galaxy, or it always leads to an elliptical galaxy. Give it a hundred million years or so for any of the currently observable galaxies in collision to sort themselves out and we'll have a definitive answer.

  9. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    I like the accompanying illustration...

    I know our galaxy is believed to be spiral but wow! No 'curvy arms' for us: that's a full on spiral. Way to go Milky Way!

  10. davoid

    Of course, if metals are also being produced by material closely orbiting the black hole, you might expect to see a similar distribution of any given element. Did the study only map Mg or did it map several elements? If the latter are the abundances consistent with the supernovae process, or are there divergences which get stronger as you move inwards?

  11. DJ

    Just a simple question.

    "Right after the Universe exploded into existence..."

    Could you explain to us what 'the Universe' was before it exploded?

    Or where that came from?

    Thank you for clearing this up for humankind.

    Mine's the one with the humility in the pocket...

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: Just a simple question.

      It's not a simple question but a very profound one. Unfortunately it's founded on a notion of causality and familiar laws of nature that just didn't exist at the very earliest beginnings of the universe. What does it matter what came "before" when time itself didn't exist so the question itself has no meaning.

      Big Bang theory only gives us info on what the universe was like about 10^-43 seconds (Planck time) into its life. Beyond that, physics of any kind just doesn't play.

      It's reasonable to speculate that a singularity existed as infinite potential and had a quantum jitter (read: because it could rather than conventional quantum mechanical processes) which caused a spacetime to develop with a unified symmetrical force out of the infinite potential. However we have no way of probing back that far for reasons already mentioned.

      1. Jim Wilkinson

        Re: Just a simple question.

        This post is very enlightening. I'm reading a book ATM which shocked me... when the universe began, it was space-time that started. There was no time before the BB. How could time alone exist when there was nothing else? So prior to the BB, there was nothing, no matter, no space, no time, absolutely nothing at all. It makes sense but it's still hard to grasp because it's beyond our experience.

      2. DJ

        Re: Just a simple question.

        Nothing wrong with asking questions.

        As long as one can accept there are answers we may not understand. Or like. Or accept.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Just a simple question.

      I've tried to answer this a couple of times, it's best to go to an expert:

  12. MerryChristmas
    Paris Hilton

    ? !!!!!!! or just where do you think you are going with your big bangs and black holes?

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: ?

      Where do I think I'm going with my big bangs and black holes? On David Cameron's naughty list of course!

  13. Jim Wilkinson

    But here's a puzzle...

    When stuff emerged from the BB, why did it get clumpy? There must have been something that pushed matter apart before gravity took over to coalesce matter into stars and galaxies.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: But here's a puzzle...

      That kinda stuff is being pretty much very well indeed simulated on them supercomputers.

      The Millennium-XXL Project: Simulating the Galaxy Population in Dark Energy Universes

      No extra crank stuff needed except dark ingredients.

      I do think we have ourselves a winner.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Inside out you say

    Should be called the "Way Milky" then.

    From here on I shall stand in awe at the night sky and in my best Bill and Ted voice say "Way Milky!"

  15. grammaphobe

    Once upon a time there was nothing - then there was the interent. I AM SANTA CLAUS.

  16. agricola

    All You Need is a Galaxy-Sized Computer to Figure This Out.

    Was there ever any salmon of doubt?


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