Milky Way is too big for its surroundings

(ORDO NEWS) — Recently, astronomers discovered an oddity in the Milky Way that has never been seen before in any of the studied galaxies to date: The Milky Way is too large for its surroundings.

In particular, our galaxy appears to be too large for the region in which it resides, known as the Local Leaf. This is a flattened arrangement of galaxies with equal speeds, which is bounded by almost empty space on both sides.

The relationship between galaxies in the local layer seems to have a strong influence on their behavior.

For example, they have the same speed relative to the expansion of the universe. Beyond the cosmological wall, these speeds will have a much wider range.

To determine the impact of the environment on the galaxies around us, a team of astronomers led by Miguel Aragon from the National Autonomous University of Mexico conducted an analysis using a simulation of the physical universe as part of the IllustrisTNG project.

They obviously didn’t expect to find anything out of the ordinary.

“The Milky Way is special in a way,” says Aragon.

“It is clear that the Earth is special, the only house of life known to us. But it is not the center of the universe or even the solar system.

And the Sun is just an ordinary star among the billions in the Milky Way.

Even our galaxy seemed to be just another spiral galaxy among billions of others in the observable universe.”

Milky Way is too big for its surroundings 2
Simulation of the analogue of the Milky Way

But when astrophysicists modeled a volume of space about a billion light-years in diameter containing millions of galaxies, a different picture emerged: only a handful of galaxies as massive as the Milky Way could be located within the cosmological structure of the wall.

“The Milky Way has no particular mass or type.

There are plenty of spiral galaxies that look pretty much the same,” says astronomer Joe Silk of the Institute of Astrophysics at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France.

“But this is a rarity, given his environment.

If you could easily see the next dozen or so large galaxies in the sky, you would see that they almost all lie on a ring embedded in the local layer.

This is a little weird in itself.

We recently discovered that other walls of galaxies in the universe, such as the Local Layer, very rarely have a galaxy as massive as the Milky Way within them.”

The team’s analysis left out Andromeda, the Milky Way’s largest galactic neighbor. It is a galaxy the same size as the Milky Way.

Since having two heavyweights in a cosmological wall would be even rarer, their conclusions still apply.

However, the study highlights that we may need to consider our local environment when studying the Milky Way, rather than assuming our home is in the middle place in the universe.


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