Our Motion Through Space Isn’t A Vortex, But Something Far More Interesting
“We know exactly how the Earth moves through the Universe, and it’s both beautiful and simple. Our planet and all the planets orbit the Sun in a plane, and the entire plane moves in an elliptical orbit through the galaxy. Since every star in the galaxy also moves in an ellipse, we see ourselves appear to pass in-and-out of the galactic plane periodically, on timescales of tens of millions of years, while it takes around 200-250 million years to complete one orbit around the Milky Way. The other cosmic motions all contribute, too: the Milky Way within the Local Group, the Local Group in our Supercluster, and all of it with respect to the rest-frame of the Universe.
The Solar System isn’t a vortex, but rather the sum of all our great cosmic motions. Thanks to the incredible science of astronomy and astrophysics, we at last understand, to tremendous precision, exactly what that is.”
There are images, GIFs, and videos that claim to show our motion through the galaxy. A great many of them are incredibly visually appealing; stunning, even. But are they scientifically accurate visualizations, or are they simply pseudoscience gussied up in the language of science, along with pretty-but-misleading visuals? Rather than nitpick the work of what someone else has created, let’s just go all the way and learn about what our actual cosmic motion through the Universe is, and get it as accurate as modern-day science actually knows!