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Scientists think they’ve solved the mystery of why our Milky Way galaxy is so rare

via NASA
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Astronomers have long wondered why spiral galaxies like the Milky Way are so rare in our local galactic neighborhood.

New research using supercomputer simulations of the evolution of our neighborhood over billions of years found evidence of a turbulent past that may explain this.

“This is an iconic moment,” ESA’s Director of Science, Carole Mundell, stated.

The simulations showed galaxies in dense clusters like ours experienced frequent collisions and mergers when galaxies formed.

Observations of our local universe also show many elliptical galaxies but few spirals.

This suggests mergers of colliding galaxies transformed spirals into ellipticals over time, while the Milky Way somehow survived amidst this chaotic environment of “galactic bumper cars.”

The simulations have provided insight into how mergers change galaxy types through transformations such as two colliding spiral galaxies forming an elliptical galaxy.

“Our simulation reveals the intimate details of the formation of galaxies such as the transformation of spirals into ellipticals through galaxy mergers,” co-author Carlos Frenk with the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University said.

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