New Study: Milky Way Swallowed Another Galaxy During Its Early Days

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New Study: Milky Way Swallowed Another Galaxy During Its Early Days
Image credit: Gabriel Perez Diaz, SMM (IAC).

Scientists studied the early days of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and they say about 13 billion years ago, the universe looked different than it does today. Stars were apparently forming at a rapid rate, which resulted in dwarf galaxies being formed. However, a new study suggests the Milky Way swallowed another galaxy during its formation.

Scientists derived measurements for the positions, brightness and distances of about 1 million stars in the Milky Way within 6,500 light-years of the sun. Scientists gathered this data using the Gaia space telescope, which allowed a team from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) to map how the early galaxy looked. The study was published today in the journal Nature Astronomy.

“We have analyzed, and compared with theoretical models, the distribution of colours and magnitudes (brightnesses) of the stars in the Milky Way, splitting them into several components; the so-called stellar halo (a spherical structure which surrounds spiral galaxies) and the thick disc (stars forming the disc of our Galaxy, but occupying a certain height range),” IAC researcher and study author Carme Gallart said in a statement.

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