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Small Galaxies Continue to Create Stars Even With Gravitational Pulls

NASA Hubble / Instagram.

NASA Hubble / Instagram.

The researchers of the study ran computer simulations on the local group of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way, Andromeda and their satellite galaxies.

All that matters at the cosmic scale is how much gravitational power you have. The one with the most mass pulls everything else, for example, Earth pulls the moon, the sun pulls the Earth and the black hole at the centre of our galaxy Milky Way pulls billions of stars, one of which is our sun. Not only that, a huge galaxy like ours can also pull smaller galaxies — often known as satellite galaxies — towards itself, often shearing their stardust, the gaseous material that forms stars. However, in the latest study, scientists have found how satellite galaxies are capable of not only saving their stardust from being shorn by bigger parent galaxies but also can form new stars even after just passing through the strong gravitational field of the parent galaxies, something which scientists did not expect.

A new study published on June 12 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) says that satellite galaxies in the local group of galaxies show wider diversity in star formation. The researchers of the study ran computer simulations on the local group of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way, Andromeda and their satellite galaxies. Their models showed that the satellite galaxies not can retain their gas but can also undergo new episodes of star formation just after passing the pericentre — the centre of mass of both satellite and the parent galaxies.

“The passage of satellites also coincide with peaks in the star formation of their parent galaxies,” said Arianna di Cintio, the lead author of the study, in a statement by Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain. According to Cintio, this new model is consistent with the history of star formation in our Milky Way galaxy. She believes that the new findings will shed some light on how star formation happens in smaller dwarf galaxies, a question that is unresolved yet.

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first published:July 07, 2021, 14:32 IST