Australian Astronomers Identify Milky Way’s Location in the Cosmos

By @Len_IBTimes on

Australian astronomers have located the Milky Way, which apparently sits like a bead in a cosmic thread, relative to the large-scale structure of the universe, ABC News reports.

Dr. Stefan Keller, from the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University, and colleagues made the discovery while studying ancient balls of tightly packed stars called globular clusters.

ABC further reports that the scientists gathered data showing the globular clusters were primarily located along a narrow plane around the Milky Way.

"It was a nice discovery and in some ways unexpected," Dr. Keller said.

"We were discussing news about the discovery that satellite dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way were spread along a single plane and we wondered if globular clusters did likewise... So I did a few calculations and found that they did indeed trace the same plane," said Dr. Keller, adding the filaments also link globular clusters and satellite galaxies.

"Instead of being collections of stars from our own galaxy, some globular clusters could be the remnants of other galaxies that have collided with and been consumed by the Milky Way through the process of galactic cannibalism," he said.

Dr. Keller's study supports the hypothesis that the large-scale structure of the cosmos consists of long filaments of galaxies and vast voids spanning millions of light years.

"We're kind of sandwiched between two enormous voids which pin us into a filament linked at one end to the big Virgo galaxy cluster and to the Fornax galaxy cluster off to the other side," Dr. Keller said.

The findings have been reported on the pre-press physics blog arXiv.org. It may soon get published in the Astrophysical Journal.

 

 

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