Huge extragalactic structure found hiding behind the Milky Way
A team of researchers with members from the Universidad Nacional de San Juan, the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and the Universidad Andres Bello have found evidence of a large extragalactic cluster hiding behind a part of the Milky Way galaxy. The group has published a paper describing their findings on the arXiv preprint server pending publication in a journal Astronomy and astrophysics.
Space scientists have known for some time that there is a part of the night sky that is mostly obscured from view by a bulge in the galaxy. Known as the “avoidance zone,” it makes up roughly 10% of the dark sky and has led researchers to wonder what might be behind it. Because it offers researchers so little to work with, the zone has not been well studied; therefore, little is known about what it might be hiding. In this new effort, the researchers used a variety of tools to better understand what might be hidden from view.
Over the past few years, scientists have used a variety of tools to examine the avoidance zone. The researchers began this new effort by collecting all the data collected so far and added more using information recently obtained from the VVV survey.
The VVV Survey is a project sponsored by an intergovernmental research organization called the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere. It includes multiple state-of-the-art research facilities located in multiple locations. Research is involved in the study of stars using infrared emissions rather visible light. Such emissions can pass through the gas, dust, and light from the stars in the bulge and on to instruments stationed here on Earth.
In the study infrared images, researchers found that they were able to identify several galaxies that exist far beyond the Milky Way. And because of their numbers, researchers believe that together they form what they describe as a massive extragalactic structure. They estimate that there could be as many as 58 galaxies in the structure.
Daniela Galdeano and others, the discovery of a new structure behind the Milky Way, arXiv (2022). DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2210.16332
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