The milky Way became thicker after a collision with a galaxy
02 November, 2018, 23:39 | Author: Darnell Taylor
Simulations suggest that in another two billion or so years, the Milky Way will swallow the Large Magellanic Cloud, forever erasing it from the southern sky. The evidence is littered across the sky all around us, but it has taken Gaia and its extraordinary precision to show us what has been hiding in plain sight all along. The data astronomers used a telescope Gaia.Also, scientists have created a computer model of a possible collision. The observed stars in particular are now passing by our solar neighborhood. And then you have these stars that have chose to move in the opposite sense. Usually galaxies the ratio [α/Fe] in stars decreases with time (while their metallicity [Fe/H] increases).
The team knew the stars had formed elsewhere, but they didn't know how they ended up floating around the Milky Way. "It took both surveys working together, and both of these projects will continue, so we could find more stars from the merged galaxy and probably start to reconstruct its whole history". In the Milky Way's case, the galactic disc can clearly be classified as two distinct parts: the thin disc, which is about 400 light-years thick, containing gas, dust and stars; and the thick disc, which extends to 1,000 light-years, containing only stars older than 10 billion years, like the inner halo stars.
Looking for traces of galactic mergers with the Milky Way's halo, the researchers found to their surprise that most of its stars were from the same immediate family. And there is the thick disc, which is a few thousand light years deep.
According to the calculations of astronomers, the galaxy, called Gaia-the moon Enceladus, had a mass of 6×108 solar.
Stars that form in different galaxies have unique chemical compositions that match the conditions of the home galaxy.
The evidence for Enceladus the galaxy is strong.
The globular cluster Omega Centauri - with as many as ten million stars - is seen in this image captured from the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory. The Universe was smaller in the past and so collisions were more frequent.
Massive galaxies such as our Milky Way galaxy are the outcome of mergers with other smaller galaxies.
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"Seeing that we are now starting to unravel the formation history of the Milky Way is very exciting", says Anthony Brown, Leiden University, The Netherlands, who is a co-author of the paper and also chair of the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium Executive.
Research earlier this year shows that the Milky Way is still a little hungry. That vision is paying off. Adding in this extra piece of the puzzle makes it clear that they were originally a separate galaxy.The authors have named the crashing satellite galaxy "Gaia-Enceladus", which is very fitting. "It's fantastic. It's just so lovely and makes you feel so big and so small at the same time".
According to scientists, the giant halo of the milky way could appear as a result of clashes with smaller galaxies 10 billion years ago.
"We were hoping to find fused satellite stars in the halo. It has eaten many dwarf galaxies in the past, and we've just found a major one that it ate in the past", she says.
However another thing also set these stars apart; aside from moving differently, they are also chemically different. By plotting both trajectory and chemical signature, the "invaders" stood out clearly.
After a collision with another galaxy, the disk of the milky way is thicker. Collision with object of this size had to warm up the young galactic disk, forming a thicker modern disk.
In a previous paper, Helmi had already described a huge "blob" of stars sharing a common origin .
The Milky Way collided and merged with the sizeable Gaia-Enceladus galaxy about 10 billion years ago. In Greek myths, Enceladus is the giant son of Gaia and was buried below Sicily, causing seismic activity - and the galactic burial would have caused quite a lot of upheaval as well.
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