Home > Astronomy, Galaxies, General Astronomy, Milky Way > Milky Way’s Spiral Arms Are Product of Intergalactic Collision

Milky Way’s Spiral Arms Are Product of Intergalactic Collision


Image by Tollerud, Purcell and Bullock/UC Irvine

Image by Tollerud, Purcell and Bullock/UC Irvine

UC Irvine astronomers have shown how the Milky Way galaxy’s iconic spiral arms form, according to research published today in the journal Nature.

A dwarf galaxy named Sagittarius loaded with dark matter has careened twice through our much larger home galaxy in the past two billion years, according to telescope data and detailed simulations, and is lined up to do it again. As the galaxies collide, the force of the impact sends stars streaming from both in long loops.  Those continue to swell with stars and are gradually tugged outward by the Milky Way’s rotation into a familiar ringed arm.

It’s the weighty dark matter from Sagittarius that provided the initial push, the researchers said.

Full Story: http://today.uci.edu/news/2011/09/nr_milkyway_110914.php

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