Even though the Milky Way is the most studied galaxy in the universe, there’s still so much we don’t know about it. A new study conducted suggests that the galaxy is actually quite different to how we first imagined it. The Milky Way galaxy is host to many other smaller galaxies that orbit around. But, rather than pumping out stars like many of its sibling galaxies, the Milky Way is quite tranquil in comparison according to data from the Satellites Around Galactic Analogs (SAGA) Survey.
This is quite an exciting find as it contradicts how we previously perceived the Milky Way. Lead author of the paper and Yale astrophysicist, Marla Geha says that we use the Milky Way and its surroundings to study absolutely everything. “Hundreds if studies come out every year about dark matter, cosmology, star formation, and galaxy formation, using the Milky Way as a guide. But it’s possible that the Milky Way is an outlier,” she said.
The goal of the SAGA Survey is to study around 100 of the Milky Way’s siblings. Having started five years ago, so far they’ve managed to study eight of those systems in that time. However, that’s still not enough data to come to any definitive conclusions. Over the next two years, SAGA expects to have studies 25 Milky Way siblings. Then, there should be enough data for researchers to make comparisons and draw up conclusions.
“Our work puts the Milky Way into a broader context,” said SAGA researcher and an astrophysicist at the Kavli Institute at Stanford University, Risa Wechsler. “The SAGA Survey will provide a critical new understanding of galaxy formation and of the nature of dark matter.”
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