Turns out the Milky Way Galaxy has been blocking our view of space this whole time.
According to a new study published in the Astronomical Journal, 883 entire galaxies have been found right in Earth’s own galactic backyard – only a third of which we’ve actually seen before. At 250 million light years away, these galaxies aren’t exactly close to us, but astronomers apparently measure distance a little differently than the rest of us.
The reason these massive clusters of planets and stars had previously gone unnoticed is because they resided in an area known as the “Zone of Avoidance,” which sounds like a term taken right from Star Trek or something. In actuality, it covers about 20 per cent of our sky. The reason for its name is because both the dust and bright stars in our galaxy block our view of the area. In other words, if you looked at the Zone of Avoidance with an optical telescope, it would just appear as black space.
To get around that, scientists brought in a radio telescope, which was able to detect the new galaxies.
Now here’s why that’s all significant: for years, astronomers have been scratching their heads over something known as the “Great Attractor”. It’s a mysterious gravitational force that is pulling the Milky Way through space at a shocking speed. These newly-discovered galaxy concentrations could help explain where all that force is coming from, but it’s still too early to tell.
“We don’t actually understand what’s causing this gravitational acceleration on the Milky Way or where it’s coming from,” Professor Staveley-Smith said in a statement. “We know that in this region there are a few very large collections of galaxies we call clusters or superclusters, and our whole Milky Way is moving towards them at more than two million kilometres per hour.”
Pretty shocking, right? You can learn more about the discovery in the video below: