Most probably, astronomers will never get to learn everything about our Milky Way galaxy, although they probably wouldn’t be willing to admit it. The core of our galaxy is perhaps the most intriguing part, as that’s the place where the majority of stars exist.
But there’s a specific cosmic object that has caught the astronomers’ attention lately and also exists somewhere near the galactic kernel of the Milky Way. At first glance, the unexpected structure resembles a miniature spiral galaxy that orbits a large star. But it’s something completely different.
It’s just a huge star
According to LiveScience.com, the newfound object is nothing more than a big star. The structure is located roughly 26,000 light-years away from our planet. A huge disc of swirling gas measuring about 4,000 AU wide and containing a star is what causes the weird shape. That’s also known as a protostellar disk, and it helps young stars nurture and become much bigger in a process that takes millions of years.
📡Close Encounter More Than 10,000 Years Ago Stirred Up Spirals in an Accretion Disk with two spiral arms surrounding a 32 solar mass protostar in the Galactic Center. ⬇️https://t.co/Z7EPKxgrU0 pic.twitter.com/wWhd5OBhN3
— ALMA Observatory📡 (@almaobs) June 18, 2022
Astronomers have been using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile to observe the weird object, and they think it’s plausible that a near collision with another space object might be to blame for the weird shape.
The research team even calculated many potential orbits and ran a simulation to see if their theory was accurate.
Lu Xing, who is a co-author of the study and an associate researcher from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, stated:
The nice match among analytical calculations, the numerical simulation and the ALMA observations provides robust evidence that the spiral arms in the disk are relics of the flyby of the intruding object.
The new study was published in Nature Astronomy.