Astronomers have discovered a giant galaxy spanning 16.3 million light years, or 100 times larger than our Milky Way..
About 3 billion light years from Earth, Alcyoneus radio galaxy extends up to 16.3 million light years. It is the largest galaxy ever discovered to date.
Named after the son of the Greek god Ouranos, the primordial sky god, Alcyoneus could offer new clues to the structure of the universe, also known as space networkwhich would connect all the galaxies.
Image of a giant galaxy simulated in the Space Engine tool.
Image of a giant galaxy simulated in the Space Engine tool. (Photo: YouTube/Space Engine).
Origin of Alcyoneus
Heo Science alert, Radio galaxies have a host galaxy in the middle of which are supermassive black holes. When matter falls into the black hole, it releases energy from the center of the galaxy, creating giant jets of energy.
These energy jets then interact with the medium between the other galaxies in the cluster, thereby accelerating the electrons and creating radio radiation. These rays can travel great distances before spreading into giant radio waves.
Astronomers at the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands say this is a common process, even in our own galaxy. What puzzles them, however, is why, in some galaxies, these radio waves can reach such large sizes.
Actual image of Alcyoneus, the largest galaxy ever discovered.
Actual image of Alcyoneus, the largest galaxy ever discovered. (Photo: Martijn Oei).
“If the unique characteristics of the host galaxy determine the enormous size of a radio galaxy, then the host galaxy of the largest radio galaxy holds the answer.”explained Mr Martijn Oei, research team leader at the Leiden Observatory.
In addition to the features that come from within, including host galaxyMr. Oei believes that external factors also have a direct influence on the size of the radio galaxy.
“Similarly, if there are specific environmental features favoring the growth of giant radio galaxies, then the largest radio galaxies will likely exist there.», continued the astronomer.
To further study Alcyoneus, astronomers used Sloan Observatory Digital Sky Survey located at the Apache Point Observatory, New Mexico, to observe the host galaxy.
They found that it is a fairly normal elliptical galaxy, about 240 billion times the mass of the Sun, with a supermassive black hole at its center that is about 400 million times the mass of the Sun.
Radio waves from Alcyoneus.
Alcyoneus’ radio waves. (Photo: Martijn Oei).
The team says both numbers are actually low for giant radio galaxies, which could provide clues about the evolution of radio waves.
“Alcyoneus and its host galaxy are strangely normal. Indicators such as total low-frequency luminosity density, stellar mass, and supermassive black hole mass are all less than or equal to those of ordinary radio galaxies.”the researchers said.
“Therefore, host galaxies or central black holes are not the main factor that makes radio galaxies so large.” » the group continued.
Currently, the most compelling reason put forward by the team is that Alcyoneus exists in a region of space with a lower-than-average matter density, causing this galaxy to expand rapidly. They also believe that Alcyoneus continues to grow.
How to find Alcyoneus
To discover Alcyoneus, the team used data collected by LOFAR (Low-Frequency Array) network. It is a network made up of around 20,000 radio antennas, spread over 52 sites across Europe.
Researchers have detected two giant plasma plumes emanating from a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The material blown into space by these two flows includes the elements that form a new star.
The LOFAR network is located in the Netherlands.
The LOAR network is located in the Netherlands. (Photo: Creative Commons).
Moving at almost the speed of light, this material heats up and melts into plasma, glowing like a radio light that LOFAR can detect.
“We have discovered the largest known structure in the universe, a giant radio galaxy 16.3 million light years across.” said the research team.
Article source: Zing
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Astronomers have discovered a giant galaxy spanning 16.3 million light years, or 100 times larger than our Milky Way. About 3 miles from Earth…