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
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
MAY 09, 2021
Space & Astronomy
NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Completes Its First One-Way Trip on Mars
MAY 09, 2021
NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Completes Its First One-Way Trip on Mars
NASA sent the Perseverance rover to Mars loaded with cutting edge technology, one piece of which is a robotic helicopter ...
MAY 15, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Find Liquid Water Inside Meteorite
MAY 15, 2021
Scientists Find Liquid Water Inside Meteorite
Scientists know that water is abundant in the solar system- existing in the rings of Saturn and on its moon, Enceladus. ...
JUN 12, 2021
Cancer
Using astronomy to image cancer tumors
JUN 12, 2021
Using astronomy to image cancer tumors
In an interdisciplinary breakthrough, a recent study published in Science describes the development of a new platform, d ...
JUN 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Chinese Astronauts Will Live on New Space Station for 3 Months
JUN 17, 2021
Chinese Astronauts Will Live on New Space Station for 3 Months
Astronauts aboard China’s first manned spacecraft in almost five years have reached the new Tiangong space station ...
JUL 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Giant Plumes on Saturn's Moon May Hold Signs of Life
JUL 08, 2021
Giant Plumes on Saturn's Moon May Hold Signs of Life
Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, has giant erupting plumes of water that, scientists say, can not be explained by known g ...
JUL 22, 2021
Space & Astronomy
On Mars, the Perseverance Rover is Set to Acquire Its First Sample
JUL 22, 2021
On Mars, the Perseverance Rover is Set to Acquire Its First Sample
One of the special features of NASA's Perseverance Rover is its ability to perform some scientific experiments. One of i ...
Loading Comments...