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Surprise Pancake Structure in Andromeda Galaxy Upends Galactic Understanding


Craig
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http://keckobservatory.org/news/surprise_pancake_structure_in_andromeda_galaxy_upends_galactic_understandin


 


Kamuela, Hawaii – 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 findings are being reported on the cover the upcoming issue of the journal, Nature.


 


While Persian astronomers were the first to catalogue the Andromeda galaxy, only in the last five years that we have studied in exquisite detail the most distant suburbs of the Andromeda galaxy via the Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey (PAndAS), undertaken with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and measured with the Keck Observatory, providing our first panoramic view of our closest large companion in the cosmos.


 


The study culminates many years of effort by an international team of scientists who have discovered a large number of the satellite galaxies, developed new techniques to measure their distances, and have used the Keck Observatory with colleagues to measure their radial velocities, or Doppler shifts (the speed of the galaxy relative to the Sun). While earlier work had hinted at the existence of this structure, the new study has demonstrated its existence to a high level of statistical confidence (99.998%).


 


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Interesting. So according to existing models dwarf galaxies are formed from within the parent and are expected to be randomly distributed. But here they are in a flat 'solar system' type structure.


 


I wonder if this is different to the Milky Way - I thought our dwarf galaxies were fairly randomly distributed - or does our viewpoint make it easier to take measurements from a distance? If they are random in the Milky Way, maybe the models have been created based around an expected outcome....


 


Good stuff Craig, keep em coming!


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