Watch: Astronomers Discover Hundreds of Galaxies Hidden Behind the Milky Way

Tuesday, 09 February 2016 - 2:34PM
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 - 2:34PM
A new telescope view has just revealed hundreds of never-before-seen galaxies that lie hidden behind the Milky Way. The team of astronomers found 883 galaxies behind ours, one third of which are new discoveries. 

Astronomers have been attempting to see past the Milky Way for decades, but conventional techniques have been unable to look past the thick foreground of gas and dust. A radio telescope from Australia, which famously assisted with the moon landings, was able to penetrate through that layer and see the vast number of galaxies that we were unable to detect.

"The Milky Way is very beautiful, of course, and it's very interesting to study our own galaxy, but it completely blocks out the view of the more distant galaxies behind it," lead author Professor Lister Staveley-Smith said in a statement.

Hundreds of New Galaxies Discovered

This discovery may help explain a long-mysterious phenomenon called the Great Attractor, a gravity anomaly in intergalactic space that pulls the Milky Way and thousands of other galaxies towards it with the gravitational force of a million billion suns. There are several superclusters in the area, and if these clusters of galaxies are hiding other galaxies, then that could explain the amount of mass that would be needed to pull our region of space towards it.

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"We don't actually understand what's causing this gravitational acceleration on the Milky Way or where it's coming from," said Staveley-Smith. "We know that in this region there are a few very large collections of galaxies we call clusters or superclusters, and our whole Milky Way is moving towards them at more than two million kilometres per hour."
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