MAY 30, 2021 9:14 AM PDT

New Discovery Casts Origin of Milky Way into Doubt

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

A detailed cross-section of another galaxy, known as YGC 10738, has cast previous ideas of how the Milky Way was formed into doubt. 

Previously, researchers had supposed that the Milky Way came into being from a freak accident involving a violent mash-up between two galaxies. This, they thought, explained the Milky Way’s thin and thick disks. New research however shows that the Milky Way’s formation may be more typical than previously thought and that Milky Way-type galaxies are likely very common. 

For the research, the scientists used the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile to observe UGC 10738, located 320 million light-years away. Then, using an instrument known as the multi-unit spectroscopic explorer, or MUSE, they were able to assess the metal ratios of stars in its thick and thin disks. 

In doing so, they found that these ratios were practically the same as those in the Milky Way, with ancient stars in the thick disk and younger ones in the thin one. This, say the researchers is relatively strong evidence that the Milky Way formed in a similar way to UG 10738, although they are investigating other galaxies too to verify their findings.

"This is an important step forward in understanding how disk galaxies assembled long ago.” says Ken Freeman, co-author of the study. “We know a lot about how the Milky Way formed, but there was always the worry that the Milky Way is not a typical spiral galaxy. Now we can see that the Milky Way's formation is fairly typical of how other disk galaxies were assembled".

These findings also mean that detailed observations of the Milky Way may be used as proxies for more distant galaxies, thus helping scientists improve our knowledge of the Universe beyond our solar system. 

 

Sources: EurekAlertThe Astrophysical Journal Letters

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
NOV 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Observe the Birth of a Magnetar
NOV 13, 2020
Researchers Observe the Birth of a Magnetar
Scientists think they have witnessed the birth of a magnetar for the first time, when a massive burst of gamma rays took ...
JAN 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Discover Planet with 3 Suns
JAN 17, 2021
Astronomers Discover Planet with 3 Suns
Having just one star in our solar system makes us an outlier in our galaxy. However, while most solar systems in the Mil ...
APR 10, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Japanese Spacecraft Launched to Clean Space Junk
APR 10, 2021
Japanese Spacecraft Launched to Clean Space Junk
  There are currently around 900,000 pieces of man-made space junk orbiting Earth- mostly from now-defunct satellit ...
MAY 02, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
MAY 02, 2021
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
Although Venus is our planet’s closest neighbour, its fundamental properties have remained largely unknown. Now th ...
MAY 21, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Alien Radioactive Element Discovered on Earth for First Time
MAY 21, 2021
Alien Radioactive Element Discovered on Earth for First Time
  Researchers from Australian National University have discovered the first ever extraterrestrial radioactive isoto ...
Loading Comments...