In an unprecedented astronomical discovery made by a group of astronomers DiscoverCoincidentally, the first intergalactic “star stream” in… Outer Space. This amazing stream, called the “Giant Coma Stream,” surprised scientists by being ten times larger than the Milky Way and with its unusual location.
Stellar streams are a type of elongated strings of stars that are gravitationally entangled and torn from their galaxies or nebulae by the gravity of other nearby galaxies. For many years, astronomers have mapped dozens of these intragalactic currents in galaxies Outer Space. But they never could explore One intergalactic.
In the study published in the magazine Astronomy and astrophysicsResearchers have identified and mapped the first intergalactic star stream, extending through the Coma Cluster, a group of more than 1,000 small galaxies located about 321 million light-years from Earth.
Being the largest stellar stream ever discovered and found in the Coma Cluster, researchers have named it the “Giant Coma Stream.”
“This massive current crossed our path by chance,” Javier Roman, lead author of the study and an astrophysicist at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, said in a statement. Initially, the team was studying star halos scattered around the Coma Cluster, trying to measure the dark matter surrounding the cluster of galaxies, when they came across a star trail.
Michael Rich, an astronomer at the University of California and co-author of the study, was the one who did just that Discover This phenomenon was observed with their personal telescope, but they needed a more powerful telescope to study this stellar stream accurately, so they went to the William Herschel Telescope located in the Canary Islands, Spain.
The researchers were surprised explore The hidden stellar stream within a galaxy cluster. The structure is “extremely fragile in a hostile environment of galaxies that attract and repel,” said study co-author Reinier Pelletier, an astronomer at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Normally, something like this would be expected to be torn apart by more massive galaxies, he added.
Researchers have doubts about how this stellar stream was able not only to survive, but also to grow to “such a size.”
One explanation could be related to the elusive matter they were originally searching for: dark matter. Although this mysterious entity makes up most of the matter in the universe, it is effectively invisible and can only be detected through gravitational interactions with visible matter. The team noted that it is possible that dark matter hiding within the galaxy cluster helped extend the stellar stream into its current form.