Astronomers Discover a Bizarre Spiral Object Swirling Around The Milky Way's Center

Astronomers have gazed into the core of the Milky Way and discovered what looks to be a small spiral galaxy revolving daintily around a single big star, as if breaking open a cosmic Russian nesting doll.

The star is around 32 times as big as the sun and lies amid a gigantic disk of spinning plasma known as a "protostellar disk," which is located about 26,000 light-years from Earth near the thick and dusty galactic core. (The disk is 4,000 astronomical units broad, or 4,000 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.)

Throughout the cosmos, such disks serve as stellar fuel, allowing nascent stars to evolve into large, luminous suns over millions of years.

But scientists have never seen anything like it: a small galaxy circling uncomfortably near to the galactic core.

I'm curious in how this mini-spiral came to be, and whether there are any more like it.

According to a recent research published in the journal Nature Astronomy on May 30, the answers might be found in a mystery object around three times the mass of the sun lying just beyond the spiral disk's orbit.

The researchers discovered that the disk does not appear to be moving in a way that would give it a natural spiral structure using high-definition data collected with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile.

Rather, they write, the disk appears to have been literally agitated by a near-collision with another body – likely the mystery triple-sun-sized object that can still be seen nearby.

To test this theory, the researchers computed a dozen possible orbits for the strange object and performed a simulation to determine whether any of them might have taken it close enough to the protostellar disk to cause it to spiral.

They discovered that if the item had followed a precise route, it might have skimmed by the disk roughly 12,000 years ago, perturbing the dust just enough to produce the brilliant spiral form that can be seen today.

"The nice match among analytical calculations, the numerical simulation, and the ALMA observations provide robust evidence that the spiral arms in the disk are relics of the flyby of the intruding object," according to a statement by study co-author Lu Xing, an associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Shanghai Astronomical Observatory.

This research not only provides the first direct photographs of a protostellar disk at the galactic core, but it also demonstrates how external objects may whip stellar disks into spiral geometries that are only visible on a galactic scale.

Because the Milky Way's center is millions of times denser with stars than our part of the galaxy, near-miss occurrences like these are expected to happen on a frequent basis at the galactic center, according to the astronomers.

That implies our galaxy's core might be crammed with tiny spirals just waiting to be discovered. For a very long time, scientists may not be able to reach the center of this cosmic nesting doll.

Astronomers Discover a Bizarre Spiral Object Swirling Around The Milky Way's Center Astronomers Discover a Bizarre Spiral Object Swirling Around The Milky Way's Center Reviewed by Lilit on June 23, 2022 Rating: 5
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