Galaxies like our Milky Way are mysteriously hard to come by in our cosmic backyard. New supercomputer simulations have helped astronomers finally answer why.
The Milky Way sits within a galaxy cluster on the Supergalactic Plane — a billion light-year-wide sheet, or “supercluster,” upon which large galaxy clusters are pinned. But other spiral galaxies are surprisingly rare along this gigantic plane, while bright elliptical galaxies are far more common.
Now, astronomers suggest this is because a violent history of frequent galactic collisions filled our neighborhood with ellipses while somehow sparing our own galaxy. They published their findings Nov. 20 in the journal Nature Astronomy.
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