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A dramatic head-on collision with a dwarf galaxy, dubbed the “Gaia Sausage” galaxy, about 10 billion years in the past reshaped the construction of our galaxy, the Milky Method, fashioning each its interior bulge and its outer halo, new analysis suggests.
The dwarf didn’t survive the impression. It shortly fell aside, and the wreckage is now throughout us, in keeping with the findings.
“The collision ripped the dwarf to shreds, leaving its stars shifting in very radial orbits” which might be lengthy and slim like needles, mentioned Vasily Belokurov of the College of Cambridge and the Heart for Computational Astrophysics on the Flatiron Institute in New York Metropolis.
The celebrities’ paths take them “very near the centre of our galaxy. This can be a telltale signal that the dwarf galaxy got here in on a extremely eccentric orbit and its destiny was sealed.”
The outcomes detailed in a collection of latest papers within the journals the Month-to-month Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, The Astrophysical Journal Letters and arXiv.org define the salient options of this extraordinary occasion.
A number of of the papers had been led by Cambridge graduate scholar GyuChul Myeong. He and colleagues used information from the European Space Company’s Gaia satellite tv for pc.
This spacecraft has been mapping the stellar content material of our galaxy, recording the journeys of stars as they journey by way of the Milky Method.
Because of Gaia, astronomers now know the positions and trajectories of our celestial neighbours with unprecedented accuracy.
The paths of the celebs from the galactic merger earned them the moniker the “Gaia Sausage,” defined Wyn Evans of Cambridge.
“We plotted the velocities of the celebs, and the sausage form simply jumped out at us. Because the smaller galaxy broke up, its stars had been thrown onto very radial orbits. These Sausage stars are what’s left of the final main merger of the Milky Method,” Evans mentioned.
The brand new analysis additionally recognized a minimum of eight giant, spherical clumps of stars referred to as globular clusters that had been introduced into the Milky Method by the Sausage galaxy.
Small galaxies typically would not have globular clusters of their very own, so the Sausage galaxy should have been sufficiently big to host a group of clusters.
“Whereas there have been many dwarf satellites falling onto the Milky Method over its life, this was the most important of all of them,” mentioned Sergey Koposov of Carnegie Mellon College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US.
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