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Astronomers identify new infrastructures in the Milky Way

Astronomers identify new infrastructures in the Milky Way

This Tuesday, an international team of astronomers published a new map of the Milky Way, identifying new infrastructures in that galaxy, after data collected by the Gaia space probe, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), since December 2020.

“Until now, it has not been possible to explore much of this region of the Milky Way due to dust interfering with the environment, darkening much of the galaxy’s surface,” explained research leader Chervin Laporte, of the university’s Cosmos Institute. Science Barcelona (IEEC-UB).

The team, which published the results in the academic journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, analyzed year-long motion data sent by the Gaia space probe.

“Although dust affects the luminosity of stars, it has no effect on stellar motion. Therefore, we can use the motion of stars to obtain a CT scan. [exame de imagem] of the largest regions in the galaxy,” added Chervin Laporte.

The map revealed several previously unknown filamentous structures on the outside of the disc, as well as providing a clearer view of what is already known.

Numerical simulations already predicted the formation of these filamentous structures from previous interactions, but the researchers cautioned that they did not expect to see the large number of substructures in the new map.

Regarding the origin of the filaments, astronomers have hypothesized that the structures are the remnants of the Milky Way’s outer disk mixed with the remnants of neighboring dwarf galaxies.

“However, another possibility is that all of these structures are not really original disk structures, but are the result of a projection of motion that produces an optical illusion,” Laporte recalls.

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