December 5, 2022

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Astronomers accidentally discover the largest radio galaxy ever: 'It can be compared to a hundred consecutive galaxies' |  Science

Astronomers accidentally discover the largest radio galaxy ever: ‘It can be compared to a hundred consecutive galaxies’ | Science

By chance, a team of astronomers discovered the largest radio galaxy ever. The length of the galaxy is at least 16 million light-years, which is equivalent to a hundred galaxies in a row. This was reported by Leiden University. The structure is inconsistent with previous ideas about the formation of a radio galaxy, according to study leader Martijn Oei.




For another study, existing astronomical images had to be recreated, but at a low resolution. Then Oye saw two large plumes, the hitherto undiscovered radio galaxy. “I hardly knew what radio galaxies were at the time. Using my online calculator, I tried to calculate what size this system should be, and it was bigger than anything I had ever heard of.” Oy explains that radio galaxies are outgrowths of galaxies. In the galaxy, a type of volcanic eruption occurs that releases material from the galaxy outward.

Theories in the sea

With the team, try to find out how this radio galaxy might have arrived so far. However, researchers had to put forward the existing causes one by one. “Maybe there was a big black hole, or the galaxy had a lot of stars or the jet streams were very strong,” says Oy. “But that wasn’t the case, the system is pretty average in these respects.” In the study, the researchers also called the system “ordinary fishy.”

In the coming period, scientists will conduct more research on the reason for the size of the radio galaxy. The impressive find was named Alcyoneus, after the most powerful of the giants (a type of giant in Greek mythology). “There is still one theory we need to test,” says Oy. “The galaxy could be in a fragile environment, causing the radio galaxy to go even further.”

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the size of the moon

In any case, the research shows that some galaxies still influence their radio galaxies far from their immediate surroundings. It is also possible that Alcyoneus is more than 16 million light-years away. Earth is about 3 billion light-years away from the radio galaxy. In our view, the system in the sky should be about the same size as the Moon.

Scientists from the universities of Leiden, Hertfordshire, Oxford and Paris will soon publish the research in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.