Home > Astronomy, Cosmology, Galaxies, General Astronomy > Surprise Pancake Structure In Andromeda Galaxy Upends Galactic Understanding

Surprise Pancake Structure In Andromeda Galaxy Upends Galactic Understanding


Astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii and W. M. Keck Observatory telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii have been amazed to find a group of dwarf galaxies moving in unison in the vicinity of the Andromeda Galaxy. The structure of these small galaxies lies in a plane, analogous to the planets of the Solar System. Unexpectedly, they orbit the much larger Andromeda galaxy en masse, presenting a serious challenge to our ideas for the formation and evolution of all galaxies.

The study reveals almost 30 dwarf galaxies orbiting the larger Andromeda galaxy in this regular, solar system-like plane. The astronomers’ expectations were that these smaller galaxies should be buzzing around randomly, like bees around a hive.

“This was completely unexpected,” said Geraint Lewis, one of the lead authors on the Nature publication. “The chance of this happening randomly is next to nothing.” The fact that astronomers now see that a majority of these little systems in fact contrive to map out an immensely large – approximately one million light years across – but extremely flattened structure, implies that this understanding is grossly incorrect. Either something about how these galaxies formed, or subsequently evolved, must have led them to trace out this peculiar, coherent, structure.

Full Story: http://keckobservatory.org/news/surprise_pancake_structure_in_andromeda_galaxy_upends_galactic_understandin
Also: http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/en/news/Andromeda/
Also: http://astro.unistra.fr/Cosmic_Order/Site/Welcome.html

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