Hidden Galaxies Discovered Behind Milky Way

First Posted: Feb 09, 2016 03:32 PM EST

A team of international researchers have discovered hundreds of hidden galaxies behind the Milky Way, 250 million light-years away from Earth, according to a study. The discovery of these new galaxies is enabling researchers to solve the mystery behind the gravitational forces of the "Great Attractor," a gravitational anomaly that uncovers the existence of a localized concentration of mass tens of thousands of times more massive than our galaxy.

"We don't actually understand what's causing this gravitational acceleration on the Milky Way or where it's coming from," Staveley-Smith, coauthor of the study, said in a news release. "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."

The researchers made the discovery using the CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope, which enabled them to see through the dust and stars of the Milky Way into a new, unexplored region of space. The team found 883 galaxies and a third of these galaxies had never been seen before.

This new discovery can help researchers to understand why the Great Attractor region has been drawing the Milky Way, along with hundreds of thousands of other galaxies, toward it. The Greater Attractor's gravitational force is equivalent to a million billion Suns, according to the researchers. For many years, scientists have been trying to uncover the mystery behind the Greater Attractor, and to find possible hidden galaxies behind the Milky Way. Now they have finally gotten a start on this mystery.

"An average galaxy contains 100 billion stars, so finding hundreds of new galaxies hidden behind the Milky Way points to a lot of mass we didn't know about until now," said Renée Kraan-Korteweg, coauthor of the study.

The findings of this study were published in the Astronomical Journal.

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