Scientists have spotted a massive ghost galaxy near the Milky Way. The galaxy, named Antlia 2 or Ant 2, existed unnoticed until now owing to its extremely faint and low density. Its location - behind the Milky Way’s bright central disc - also gave it a perfect hiding place, say scientists.
Researchers from Imperial College London in the UK chanced upon Antlia 2 while trawling through data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite.
“This is a ghost of a galaxy. Objects as diffuse as Ant 2 have simply not been seen before. Our discovery was only possible thanks to the quality of the Gaia data,” said Gabriel Torrealba from the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Academia Sinica in Taiwan.
Know all about Antlia 2 or Ant 2 | Here’s what the scientists say
Compared to the LMC, Ant 2 is 10,000 times fainter, meaning that it has about one 10,000th the number of stars.
Previous research has suggested that some dwarfs could be inflated by vigorous star formation, causing the galaxy to ‘puff up’, but the new research shows that this process would have to be remarkably efficient to explain Ant 2.
(With PTI inputs)