Mysterious Galaxy Known As Kraken Crashed Into The Milky Way 11 Billion Years Ago
Scientists have announced the existence of a mysterious new galaxy that is believed to have collided with the Milky Way some 11 billion years ago.
The Milky Way is known to be made up of more than 150 clusters of stars; many of which became engulfed following some kind of collision.
Astronomers were using a computer simulation called E-MOSAICS to analyse the billions of stars that make up our Milky Way, in a bid to discover where they came from based on their ages, motions, and chemical compositions.
‘The main challenge of connecting the properties of globular clusters to the merger history of their host galaxy has always been that galaxy assembly is an extremely messy process, during which the orbits of the globular clusters are completely reshuffled,’ lead study author Diederik Kruijssen, an astronomer at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, said in the research, which was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
‘To make sense of the complex system that is left today, we therefore decided to use artificial intelligence. We trained an artificial neural network on the E-MOSAICS simulations to relate the globular cluster properties to the host galaxy merger history.’
As part of their research, the team stumbled across evidence of an entirely untouched cluster of stars that has never been described before. While our galaxy was built on collisions, this one could be the biggest ever.
The galaxy, which has been named Kraken, is believed to have been engulfed by the Milky Way around 11 billion years ago, and its discovery could go a long way to helping astronomers piece together the Milky Way’s family tree.
‘The collision with Kraken must have been the most significant merger the Milky Way ever experienced,’ Kruijssen added.
‘The merger with Kraken took place 11 billion years ago, when the Milky Way was four times less massive [than today]. As a result, the collision must have truly transformed what the Milky Way looked like at the time.’
During the Milky Way’s lifespan, it’s believed to have engulfed five entirely new galaxies, which each come with more than 100 million stars, and another 15 galaxies containing more than 10 million stars.
The team of astronomers are now hopeful that they will be able to use the technology and new found discovery to find ‘fossils’ belonging to these older galaxies.
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CreditsMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society