Scientists See Giant Structure “Hidden” Behind Our Galaxy

Astronomers used powerful telescopes to peer into the so-called Zone of avoidance which obscures up to 20% of the night sky, and found a massive structure.

In our quest to explore the universe, we are often surprised by everything that’s out there. Yes, space is massive. Exploring it is not an easy task. Especially if you are doing this from Earth. Nonetheless, genius scientists find ways to explore even the most remote areas of the sky.

More often than not, we find unexpected things. Sometimes we find black holes that are in our cosmic backyard, like this one, and sometimes we find stuff that is even more massive. A new preprint study reveals a massive structure hidden behind the Milky Way in an area of the sky known as the “zone of avoidance.” It is called so because it is obscured by our own galaxy’s bulge, Vice reports.

Zone of avoidance

The ominously named “zone of avoidance” (ZoA) is a relatively uncharted region of the sky occluded by the Milky Way. Different wavelengths have been used to peer through the zone of avoidance (ZoA). Also, this is a region that obscures up to 20% of the night sky. The structure scientists have found is likely to be a massive galactic cluster. The findings are reported in a study posted on the preprint server arXiv. The scientists that made the find were led by Daniela Galdeano at the National University of San Juan in Argentina. In the paper, they describe a new galaxy cluster behind the Milky Way bulge called VVVGCl-B J181435-381432.

According to the study, “this new galaxy cluster contributes to the understanding of the large-scale structure of this still largely unexplored region of the sky.” However, this study was submitted to Astronomy & Astrophysics but has not yet been peer-reviewed.

58 galaxies?

A VVV survey from the European Southern Observatory allowed Galdeano and her team to study infrared light passing through the Milky Way’s bulge, which completely blocks visible light. After recognizing the cluster was what they were looking at, the astronomers measured the redshifts of the five galaxies spotted within. This was done using the Gemini South telescope in the Chilean Andes. To be certain, the team will need to observe the cluster more closely – but they estimate there are around 58 galaxies there. I wonder what else is hidden in the zone of avoidance.