How a collision with a dark dwarf galaxy may have shaped the Milky Way
An ancient crash may've broken up our galaxy's spiral and could eventually help explain the nature of the universe itself.
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If you check out the above artist's rendering of how we think the Milky Way would look if viewed from on high by some godlike entity, you can see that our galaxy's outer spiral arms aren't perfect, consistent lines. Rather they're broken in spots by what look like some sort of ripples. New research suggests those characteristic ripples could be the result of a dwarf galaxy made up of mostly mysterious dark matter crashing into ours hundreds of millions of years ago.
The Antlia 2 dwarf galaxy was only recently discovered in data from the European Space Agency's Gaia space telescope. Sukanya Chakrabarti, an assistant professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, used the data to calculate the dark little galaxy's path through the cosmos over the eons and found that it would've barreled through the Milky Way, creating the ripples visible in the outer disc.