Solar System is small part of the Milky Way. Since planet Earth is part of the solar system, extensive research about Milky Way is going on for quite some time. However, reports of recent times have challenged the two most popular beliefs. The Milky Way is considered to be much bigger than what it was assumed before. The shape of it is also not a flat disc with gas and stars spiraling around it and has warped around the edges of it.
According to Richard de Grijs from the University of Sydney, though spiral galaxies like Andromeda are generally flat in nature, as we can see through it using telescope, the Milky Way seems to be not following the norm. The main problem lies in the fact that distant galaxies can be studied easily through telescopes and space probes but since the Earth is a part of Milky Way itself, the observation becomes very difficult. The cue for the shape has been taken from the data published for Cepheids, a type of star in the Galaxy that has a pulsating light. It is bright at one point and dims the next according to a certain schedule. 1339 such Cepheids were studied and a cosmic yardstick was used to determine the newly observed shape of the Milky Way.
What this research has done is to understand the pattern of warped-shape of the stars better than ever before. These warped shapes are caused by the presence of huge inner disc of stars that generate a large torque by rotation. However, Heidi Jo Newberg, an accomplished astrophysicist, is not very sure of the results. He believes that this phenomenon could be a result of dwarf galaxies falling inwards, determining the shape of the Milky Way. It might also be a possibility that both the mechanisms are at the work here.