BEACON TRANSCRIPT – While it can be difficult to study from the Milky Way from the inside, scientists now believe that our galaxy is continuing on its path of slow expansion.
It has long been known that galaxies commonly absorb other satellites and galaxies which in turn causes them to expand. However, the latest study suggests that the outward edges of the Milky Way are expanding by new growth, not just through assimilation. The findings were presented on April 3 at the 2018 European Week of Astronomy and Space Science in Liverpool, U.K.
The Science Behind the Expansion of the Milky Way
Cristina Martínez-Lombilla, Ignacio Trujillo Cabrera, and Johan H. Knapen of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias are the researchers who are contributing to this new understanding of galaxy expansion.
By measuring objects in other galaxies to review for vertical and radial motion in these galaxies, the team was able to infer the migration times of stars. Then, they then applied this to the star-forming edges of our galaxy. In doing so, they arrived at the conclusion that the Milky Way is still expanding.
By the estimates of the researchers, the galaxy is expanding slowly, at approximately a 5% growth rate. In our galaxy’s case, this growth will not be unlimited. Specialists are anticipating that the Milky Way and its neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, will collide. It is believed that this will cause the two universes to merge in approximately 4 billion years.
These findings are fascinating, as they imply that as long the materials for star formation exist in a galaxy, this later will continue expanding with its’ own growth pattern. This could be happening alongside the growth by assimilation and absorption of other galaxies process.
The discovery opens new avenues for research, as the growth is dependent on the materials existing within the galaxy. Although used for expansion, it could nonetheless be assumed that this material is not unlimited. Other galaxies form in different shapes as well, and this could affect the analysis of growth in them.
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