Great Attractor Revealed? Galaxies Found Lurking Behind the Milky Way

Milky Way by Matt Dieterich

Hundreds of galaxies hidden from sight by our own Milky Way galaxy have been studied for the first time. Though only 250 million light years away—which isn’t that far for galaxies—they have been obscured by the gas and dust of the Milky Way. These galaxies may be a tantalizing clue to the nature of The Great Attractor. On February 9th, an international team of scientists published a paper detailing the results of their study of these galaxies using the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s (CSIRO) Parkes radio telescope, a 64 meter telescope in Australia. The ‘scope is equipped with an innovative new multi-beam receiver, which made it possible to peer through the Milky Way into the galaxies behind it.The area around the Milky Way that is obscured to us is called the Zone of Avoidance (ZOA). This study focused on the southern portion of the ZOA, since the telescope is in Australia. (The northern portion of the ZOA is currently being studied by the Arecibo radio telescope, also equipped with the new multi-beam receiver.) The significance of their work is not that they found hundreds of new galaxies. There was no reason to suspect that galactic distribution would be any different in the ZOA than anywhere else. What’s significant is what it will tell us about The Great Attractor.The Great Attractor is a feature of the large-scale structure of the Universe. It is drawing our Milky Way galaxy, and hundreds of thousands of other galaxies, towards it with the gravitational force of a million billion suns. The Great Attractor is an anomaly, because it deviates from our understanding of the universal expansion of the universe. “We don’t actually understand what’s causing this gravitational acceleration on the Milky Way or where it’s coming from,” said —> Read More