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A giant star stream ten times the size of the Milky Way discovered in "dead" space

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
Previously, it was believed that the space between galaxies was a dead zone. Source: Illustrative photo

Astronomers have discovered a giant star stream in intergalactic space, previously thought to be a dead zone, that is almost ten times larger than our Milky Way galaxy. This is a unique phenomenon that no one has ever seen before.

According to Universe today, the irony is that scientists did not even expect to find this stream. The main objective of their observations was to search for halos around stars located in large galaxies.

Previously, it was believed that the space between galaxies was a dead zone. There were single rogue stars there, but most of this space was considered empty. But now, astronomers from various European and California institutions have discovered a trail of stars flowing between galaxies.

Stellar stream in intergalactic space

They called the phenomenon they observed the Giant Coma Stream. The name, however, has nothing to do with coma as a state of an organism that ceases to function. The source of the name is actually the Berenice's Hair Cluster (Coma Berenices in English), from which this stream originates.

The Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky first drew attention to this cluster of galaxies back in 1933. In particular, he was interested in the fact that the galaxies in this cluster are moving too fast to be caused by ordinary matter alone. This led to the emergence of the theory of the existence of "dark matter". Even though 90 years later scientists still don't understand what this matter is, its existence is still the best guess as to what makes these galaxies move so fast.

The Berenice's Hair Cluster contains more than a thousand cataloged galaxies and is located at a distance of about 300 million light-years. This makes it popular with amateur astronomers as some of its bright galaxies can be seen with relatively small amateur telescopes.

The cluster was observed through a 70-centimeter telescope by professional astronomer Michael Rich from the University of California, Los Angeles (USA). He was the first to detect a faint patch of star trail between galaxies in the cluster.

To confirm that he had seen exactly what he saw, Rich turned to his colleagues in Spain. Thanks to the 4.2-meter William Herschel Telescope, they were able to see the entire length of the stream and were amazed at its scale.

Despite the fact that the stream is in an environment that is affected by the gravitational forces of other galaxies around it, it moves in a straight line and looks like a coherent "structure". This sounds strange, given that it is almost ten times larger than our own galaxy.

This is not the first time scientists have discovered stellar flows. Some have even been spotted in the Milky Way. But this is the first time that astronomers have found a stream so large that it crosses the gap between galaxies.

In order to better study this stream, as well as find others, astronomers need an even more powerful telescope. The researchers hope to have access to the Very Large Telescope with a huge 39-meter observation dish or the Euclid Telescope in the near future. However, getting quick access to them can be problematic as there is a great demand for working with telescopes among scientists from around the world.

Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that NASA's telescope saw the oldest supernovae, which may reveal the cosmic origin of humans.

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