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A research team solves the mystery surrounding missing spiral galaxies

A research team solves the mystery surrounding missing spiral galaxies

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There are remarkably few spiral galaxies in a given region of the sky. A research team has now discovered that galaxies with spiral arms were also present there.

Durham/Helsinki – If you observe the sky with a telescope, you can observe a wide variety of celestial objects. Spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies, planets, stars, planetary nebulae and much more can then be seen. But one thing is a big astronomical mystery: Why are there almost no spiral galaxies in a part of our local universe, the so-called supergalactic plane? An international research team has now addressed this question.

The galactic superplane is a flat structure extending approximately a billion light-years across the universe. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is embedded in the supergalactic plane. But although they are full of elliptical galaxies, spiral galaxies are very rare. An international research team led by Durham University and the University of Helsinki has now discovered what could be behind this astronomical phenomenon and the findings In the specialized magazine Nature astronomy published.

Spiral galaxies are rare at the level of super galaxies

The research group concluded that the uneven distribution of spiral galaxies is related to the environment: in galaxy clusters at the supergalaxy level, galaxies often interact and merge with each other. This is how bright, disc-shaped galaxies with spiral arms transform into galaxies without any recognizable internal structure or spiral arms. However, far beyond the supergalactic level, galaxies can evolve in relative isolation, as they can maintain their spiral structure there.

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The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is a spiral galaxy that will one day collide with the Milky Way (also a spiral galaxy). An elliptical galaxy without spiral arms then forms. © imago/engimage

To reach this conclusion, the research team used a simulation that depicts the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago to the present day. “The distribution of galaxies at the level of supergalaxies is really remarkable,” explains Carlos Frink, co-author of the study. “It’s rare, but not a complete anomaly: our simulations reveal finer details of galaxy formation, such as the transformation of spiral galaxies into elliptical galaxies through galaxy mergers.”

Spiral galaxies are missing, a phenomenon known since the 1960s

The uneven distribution of spiral and elliptical galaxies in the local universe has been known since the 1960s. The head of the study, Till Swala, faced the mystery of how he found himself in one of them by chance Communicate about the study He remembers. The scientist said he discovered this during a lecture and then “realized that we had already completed a simulation that could contain the answer.” “Our research shows that known mechanisms of galaxy evolution also operate in this unique cosmic environment.”

Incidentally, the Milky Way also will not be able to maintain its spiral structure in the long term. Within a few billion years, our galaxy is expected to collide and merge with the Andromeda Galaxy. An elliptical galaxy will then be created. (unpaid bill)