Milky Way’s Outer Hydrogen Layer Ripples Caused By Ancient Galactic Merger

Throughout history, humanity always had an interest in the outer space, still wondering what’s up there and trying to solve the mysteries of our galaxy. A new study, conducted by a team of researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology, might have brought to light an explanation for one of the mysteries that scientists have been trying to solve for more than ten years.

Research shows that an ancient “ghost galaxy” collided with the Milky Way millions of years ago, and traces of the ancient galactic merger can still be observed today.

Towards the end of last year, in November, astronomers revealed a new discovery. It seems that a low density, but relatively massive, galaxy named Antila 2 is orbiting our home galaxy. The study provides proof that suggests the collision caused massive ripples in the Milky Way’s outer hydrogen layer disk.

Ancient Galactic Merger Caused The Ripples In The Milky Way’s Outer Hydrogen Layer

Sukanya Chakrabarti, Rochester Assistant Professor, who led the team of researchers, presented the discoveries made by the team on Wednesday, June 12, during a meeting with the American Astronomical Society. The paper was submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letter and then published on the arXiv pre-print server.

The scientists used data gathered by ESA’s Gaia satellite to calculate the trajectory of Antila 2. The results showed that it is most likely that the galaxy’s collision with the Milky Way caused the ripples seen by astronomers today. Even more, the researchers used computer simulations to rule out any other possible causes of the ripples. The second most popular theory was a galactic collision with the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy.

Besides, Chakrabarti believes the discovery could prove to be useful for solving another great mystery of the universe, dark matter. During a press release, she stated: “We don’t understand what the nature of the dark matter particle is, but if you believe you know how much dark matter there is, then what’s left undetermined is the variation of density with radius.”

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Emmy Skylar

About the Author: Emmy Skylar

Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News.  She covers politics and the economy.

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