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Dating a Galaxy Crash

26 Jan 2020, 16:35 UTC
Dating a Galaxy Crash
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The dwarf galaxy Gaia-Enceladus collided with the Milky Way probably approximately 11.5 billion years ago. A team of researchers including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany for the first time used a single star affected by the collision as a clue for dating. Using observational data from ground-based observatories and space telescopes, the scientists led by the University of Birmingham were able to determine the age of the star and the role it played in the collision. The research group describes its results in Nature Astronomy.On cosmic time scales, the colliding and merging of galaxies is not uncommon. Even if both galaxies involved are of very different sizes, such a collision leaves clear traces in the larger one. For example, the smaller galaxy introduces stars with a different chemical composition, the motion of many stars is altered, and myriads of new stars are formed.The Milky Way has encountered several other galaxies in its 13.5 billion-year history. One of them is the dwarf galaxy Gaia-Enceladus. To understand how this event affected our galaxy and changed it permanently, it is important to reliably date the collision. To this end, the researchers led by Prof. Dr. Bill ...

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