Scientists have discovered 883 new galaxies hidden behind the Milky Way’s stars and dust, 250 million light years from Earth. Using the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Parkes Observatory in Australia, the international team of scientists say this could help explain the Great Attractor, a gravitational anomaly which pulls the Milky Way and hundreds of thousands of other galaxies towards it.
In collaboration with scientists from South Africa, US and the Netherlands, lead author Lister Staveley-Smith, from the University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), says only radio observations have enabled the team to see through the thick layer of dust and stars. Renée Kraan-Korteweg, an astronomer at the University of Cape Town, asserts that astronomers have tried to uncover the galaxy distribution blocked by the Milky Way for decades through the hundreds of billions of stars and a third of the discovered galaxies have never been seen before.
According to Bärbel Koribalski from CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, the 21-cm multibeam receiver on Parkes mapped the sky 13 times faster than other technologies. More discoveries from the unexplored region of space, which include anomalies within the universal expansion like the Great Attraction, can be made more quickly through this.
The structures, which include three galaxy concentrations called NW1, NW2, NW3 and two clusters called CW1 and CW2 could explain the anomaly. As of now, Staveley-Smith says that the scientists are aware that a very large collection of galaxies, called clusters or superclusters, and the whole Milky Way is moving towards the Great Attractor region at more than two million kilometres per hour.
The mysterious Great Attractor has been known since the 1970s. Its force is equivalent to a million billion suns. However, the scientists cannot fully explain what is causing the gravitational acceleration on the Milky Way.