A team from Ohio State University (USA) has identified the origin of 100 red giant stars wandering in the monster galaxy of the Milky Way – the galaxy containing Earth.
Many previous studies have proven that the Milky Way is a formidable space monster, not only huge, but also swallowing a range of other galaxies. New research from Ohio State University has found a new victim: an ancient galaxy called “Gaia Sausage”.
Published in the journal Nature Astronomy, scientists have identified around 100 red giant stars the same age as the first native stars of the Milky Way, but with different patterns of movement and composition. These massive stars are the remains of “Gaia Sausage” which was engulfed 10 billion years ago.
According to the Daily Mail, the Gaia Sausage galaxy (with Gaia being the name of the mother earth goddess in Greek mythology) is 10 billion times more massive than our sun. When it crashed into the very young Milky Way 10 billion years ago, it brought a lot of confusion. The impact even caused the Milky Way’s disk to swell, if not break, and take a long time to recover. Debris from the collision dispersed, contributing to the bulge of the galactic center and its surrounding star clusters.
However, this terrifying collision benefits the Milky Way in unexpected ways. “The evidence we’ve gathered shows that when the merger took place, the Milky Way was a large population of its own stars,” said Dr Fiorenzo Vincenzo, who led the study. In other words, the collision stimulated the formation of stars in the Milky Way, contributing to its rapid growth.
To arrive at the discovery, the team gathered data from the APOGEE spectroscopic survey, conducted from the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, from which to analyze the chemical composition and age of stars.
A study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society published in December 2020 showed that the “monster” Milky Way had already swallowed at least 16 galaxies during its formation, including large galaxies. Some other studies predict that in about 2 billion years, another collision will occur. The formidable adversary of the future is the giant galaxy Andromera.