One of the hardest regions of the Universe to observe is the “zone of avoidance” (ZoA), the relatively unmapped region of the sky obscured by our Milky Way galaxy.
In new research, a team of astronomers was able to look right through this area and discovered a once-hidden “extragalactic structure,” according to a new study that is under review but has been submitted to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics , according to Futurism.
The famous area darkens about 10 to 20 percent of the sky due to stars and dust surrounding the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Seeing what lies on the other side of the bulge can be a difficult task – there have been successful efforts to look through the area, but compared to other regions of space it still receives relatively little attention.
ZoA, a newly discovered small region of the sky
And now, astronomers’ discovery of “extragalactic structure” – believed to be a cluster of galaxies of considerable size – could help clear things up.
“For many years, the ZoA lacked information, but now, with the new studies, we could cover a small region of the sky, and in the near future, a larger region,” he said in an interview with Vice Daniela Galdeano, astronomer at the National University of San Juan, Argentina.
A galaxy cluster with approximately 58 galaxies identified
To peer beyond the galactic veil, Galdeano and his team used the European Southern Observatory’s VVV survey to examine the infrared light that passes through the Milky Way’s “bulging region,” where visible light is completely blocked.
After realizing that what they were looking at was a cluster, the astronomers went on to use the Gemini South telescope to measure the redshifts of the five galaxies observed within them, which helped determine their distances and velocities.
According to the team’s estimates, there could be about 58 galaxies gathered in the cluster, but they will need further observations to be sure.
However, it is a bright discovery in a part of the Universe that is not yet mapped due to the overwhelming shape of our galaxy.