Rarely-seen stellar streams show us that many stars in our galaxy actually came from smaller, neighboring galaxies.

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

For years now, astronomers have been looking at the sky to try and find dark energy-- energy that mathematically should exist, but that we’re not sure how to detect or where to find.  To detect the undetectable, scientists build increasingly sensitive telescopes and point them at the sky to do a survey, and one of those had an unexpected side-effect.

The Milky Way has billions of stars, the Dark Energy Survey just uncovered a bunch of them weren’t born here. Instead, they migrated to our shores and are now living their lives as productive members of our galactic society.

We know this because in the hunt for dark energy, the Dark Energy Survey imaged 11 new stellar streams. They’re the little paths migratory stars took when coming to our galaxy!

Stellar Streams are formed when smaller, dimmer galaxies wander too close to the Milky Way. The collective gravity of the two galaxies cause little tendrils of stars on the outskirts of the passing galaxy to stretch out. Once the tendrils of the Milky Way and the passing galaxy meet, stars start to flow into the Milky Way’s gravitational field and form halos.  

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