The Formation of the Milky Way: A Rare Cosmic Marvel Revealed

SPACE — Earth is not only unique because it is the only one that hosts life, but is also located in the perfect system of stars and galaxies in the universe. Spiral galaxies like our Milky Way are mysteriously hard to find in our cosmic backyard.

Recently, scientists used supercomputer simulations to find out why. As a result, the formation of our cosmic house is like no other known to date.

The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy located in a galaxy cluster in the Supergalactic Plane, which is a sheet one billion light years wide which is also called a supercluster. Above it, another, larger galaxy cluster lies. However, other spiral galaxies are very rarely found in the giant field. All that was scattered were bright elliptical galaxies.

Through their new study, astronomers think this happened because of a history of collisions between spiral galaxies which produced various elliptical galaxies, but still left our own galaxy: the spiral Milky Way. They published their findings in the journal Nature Astronomy on November 20, 2023.

Also read: Andromeda, the largest spiral galaxy closest to the Milky Way Galaxy

“The distribution of galaxies in the Supergalactic Plane is truly extraordinary. “This (the formation of the Milky Way) is rare, but not a total anomaly: our simulations reveal deep details of galaxy formation, such as the transformation of spirals into ellipticals through galaxy mergers,” said Carlos Frenk, professor of physics at Durham University in the UK.

Our supergalaxy is a disk-shaped formation consisting of several massive galaxy clusters. Each cluster contains thousands of galaxies. The galaxies in this cluster fall into two broad categories: an elliptical galaxy filled with ancient stars and a giant supermassive black hole. Second, a spiral galaxy like our Milky Way, with a smaller supermassive black hole at its center and still many young stars forming along its delicate spiral arms.

However, since the discovery of the supergalaxy by French astronomer Gerard de Vaucouleurs in the 1950s, scientists have noticed confusing differences. The cluster is filled with bright elliptical galaxies, but spiral galaxies are very rare. So, where does our beloved Milky Way come from?

To study the evolution of our cosmic neighborhood, the researchers behind the new study turned to a supercomputer simulation called the Beyond the Local Universe Simulation (SIBELIUS). By rewinding the observed evolution of galaxies 13.8 billion years to the start of the Big Bang, the researchers built a model similar to the evolution of galaxy superclusters.

Also read: Dozens of massive stars caught escaping from the Milky Way, why?

In their simulations, the researchers saw that spiral galaxies in the dense clusters of the Supergalactic Field often collide with each other in violent collisions. The collision destroyed their delicate arms and turned them into elliptical galaxies. The process also pushes more material into the supermassive black hole of the affected galaxy, making the black hole even bigger.

On the other hand, spiral galaxies found in the distant regions of these galaxy clusters are mostly not involved in interstellar fights. This allows them to maintain their structure.

The simulation concluded that intergalactic chaos does not stop spiral galaxies like the Milky Way from evolving in the environment. However, it also shows that all galaxies have unusually avoided the worst of the damage. Yes, the end of the world has indeed been promised. Source: Live Science

2023-11-27 03:31:00
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