Gaia Satellite Finds Strange 'Ghost' Galaxy Right Outside Milky Way

Milky Way collides with another galaxy

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Compared to the other dwarf satellites of the Milky Way, it is huge in size, although only about one-third of the size of the Milky Way.

Current theories of galaxy formation can not fully explain how a galaxy so large has so few stars. Dubbed Antlia 2 (or Ant 2), the galaxy is remarkably faint but is located only about 130,000 light-years away from our galaxy.

The Ant 2 "ghost" galaxy is a large, dim dwarf galaxy that scientists have discovered near the edge of the Milky Way.

The researchers behind the current study - from Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the US, Australia and Germany - searched the new Gaia data looking for Milky Way satellites by using RR Lyrae stars.

However, despite its size, Antlia 2 gives out little light.

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Compared to the Large Magellanic Cloud, Antlia 2 is 10,000 times fainter.

There are more than 30 streams like this in our galaxy and S1 captured the interest of astronomers because our solar system is actually inside this stream.

The ESA's Gaia mission has delivered the most extravagant star list to date, including high-precision estimations of nearly 1.7 billion stars and uncovering already inconspicuous points of interest of our home world. RR Lyrae stars are old, metal-poor stars that have been found in every known dwarf satellite, according to the statement. The reason behind Antlia 2 having too little mass is that the galaxy is "being taken apart by the Galactic tides of the Milky Way", astronomers believe. "Our discovery was only possible thanks to the quality of the Gaia data".

Then again, the properties of the tricky "dark matter", thought to keep worlds together, might be reconsidered. Still, while the galaxy does have the expected RR Lyrae, it's enormous size and low mass remain puzzling.

Earlier this year, a second Gaia data dump made new details of stars in the Milky Way available to scientists worldwide.

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Vasily Belokurov, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and a collaborator on the discovery said that RR Lyrae is so scarce at these spans that even if you see two you end up asking why they are together.

In April a year ago, a team of astronomers found that stars in the vicinity of the Solar system are moving in the direction opposite to the direction of rotation of our galaxy, writes National Geographic. The researchers were also surprised when they estimated the mass of the ghost galaxy, it was very low for its vast size.

"What remains unexplained, however, is the object's giant size". This collection of stars is set to cross the path of our Sun, which means we'll be closer enough to pick up on a large, fast-moving bunch of dark matter that's predicted to hang around the S1 stream.

Dr Matthew Walker, from Carnegie Mellon University, added: "We are wondering whether this galaxy is just the tip of an iceberg, and the Milky Way is surrounded by a large population of almost invisible dwarfs similar to this one". "We are wondering whether this galaxy is just the tip of an iceberg, and the Milky Way is surrounded by a large population of almost invisible dwarfs similar to this one".

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