Milky Way Ate a Nearby Dwarf Galaxy 10 Billion Years Ago Study

first_imgStay on target Hubble Captures Mature ‘Pinwheel’ Galaxy in Stunning ImageCool, Gassy ‘Disk’ Spotted Around Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole Not much is known about the Milky Way’s formation, however, researchers are now suggesting that an important chain of events transformed the galaxy 10 billion years ago. According to a new study, the Milky Way “ate” Gaia-Enceladus, after the nearby dwarf galaxy collided and merged with our galaxy in the past.In the study, which was published in Nature Astronomy, researchers from the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) shared their findings on how Gaia-Enceladus slammed into the Milky Way roughly 10 billion years ago and over the years, the Milky Way eventually “devoured” the nearby dwarf galaxy, Engadget reported. Additionally, the researchers learned that the Gaia-Enceladus and Milky Way collision added to gas and star formation, which eventually settled to develop a “thin disk” that goes through the Milky Way’s center.This collision most likely didn’t die down for millions of years, however, it could have given the Milky Way new star material and added to its current appearance, including its unique halo, USA Today noted.“It’s a very gradual process – it’s not something like a car crash,” Carme Gallart of the Universidad de La Laguna in Spain and the study’s lead author, told AFP. “It’s very massive so it happens slowly in human terms, (but) not so slowly in cosmic time.”Ten billion years ago, a galaxy called Gaia-Enceladus was gobbled up by the Milky Way. But its stellar crumbs are still scattered throughout our skies. #SummerofSpacePBShttps://t.co/gxueCG8hMx— NOVA | PBS (@novapbs) July 23, 2019Previously, astronomers thought that the Milky Way was made of two separate sets of stars, but no one knew how they merged together in the past. With the help of the Gaia space telescope, the researchers obtained more accurate measurements of the brightness, position, and distance of approximately one million stars. The team also studied the density of elements without hydrogen or helium (metals), in the stars. Researchers concluded that both sets of stars are roughly the same age, however, evidence of a massive galaxy collision was present following analysis.This isn’t the only time the Milky Way has collided with other galaxies in space: Newsweek reported that the Milky Way could have “cannibalized” many tinier galaxies in the past. Right now, the Milky Way is merging with the Canis Major Dwarf galaxy, an irregular galaxy located 25,000 light years from Earth. The Milky Way is also expected to merge with the Andromeda Galaxy, in about 4.5 billion years.More on Geek.com:Cool, Gassy ‘Disk’ Spotted Around Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole See the 8 ‘Star Wars’ Planets in Our Own Milky Way GalaxyHubble Space Telescope Spots ‘Living Fossil’ Galaxy Outside Milky Waylast_img read more