Huge extragalactic structure discovered hidden behind the Milky Way

Huge extragalactic structure discovered hidden behind the Milky Way

Huge extragalactic structure found hiding behind the Milky Way Z (blue), J (green) and Ks (red) false color image of a region corresponding to the candidate group/cluster of galaxies. The dotted red circle delineates the central area of ​​six arcminute radius, the green lines indicate the positions of the two long slits, and the red squares show the five galaxies observed with F2. In the right panels, we have zoomed in on the 58 candidate galaxies in the study area. The length of each side of the box is 20 arcseconds. Credit: arXiv (2022). DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2210.16332

A team of researchers made up of members of 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 assemblage hiding behind part of the Milky Way galaxy. The group published a paper describing their findings on the arXiv preprint server pending publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Space scientists have known for some time that there is a portion of the night sky that is largely obscured due to a bulge in the galaxy. Known as the ‘Avoidance Zone’, it makes up around 10% of the dark sky and researchers are wondering what could be hiding behind it. Because it offers so few resources to researchers, the area has not been very well studied; thus, little is known about what he might be hiding. In this new effort, researchers used a variety of tools to better understand what might be hidden in plain sight.

In recent years, scientists have used a variety of tools to probe the avoidance zone. The researchers with this new effort started by collating all the data that has been collected so far and added more using newly obtained information 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 involves several state-of-the-art research facilities located across multiple sites. The survey was involved in studying stars using infrared emissions rather than visible light. These emissions are able to pass through the gas, dust and starlight in the bulge to the instruments installed here on Earth.

By studying infrared imagery, the researchers found they were able to identify several galaxies that exist far beyond the Milky Way. And because of their sheer number, the researchers believe that together they form what they describe as a massive extragalactic structure. They estimate that there could be up to 58 galaxies in the structure.

More information:
Daniela Galdeano et al, Unveiling of a new structure behind the Milky Way, arXiv (2022). DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2210.16332

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