Recently, astronomers have discovered that no matter how big, all galaxies rotate once every billion years. Researchers think this is weird.
Lead researcher Gerhardt Meurer said the discovery was “kind of weird.”
“I just thought that’s kind of odd, small galaxies and big galaxies all orbiting at the same time,” Professor Meurer, from the International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research, told AAP.
“It’s not Swiss watch precision,” said Professor Gerhardt Meurer from the UWA node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).
“But regardless of whether a galaxy is very big or very small, if you could sit on the extreme edge of its disk as it spins, it would take you about a billion years to go all the way round.”
Another interesting discovery shows that researchers actually found evidence of older stars existing at the edge of galaxies. Usually, only newly formed stars and gas have appeared there.
“Older theories from the 1960s and 1970s had whole galaxies forming very fast at the earliest part of the universe. That would give you the conditions for a lot of the results we’ve seen,” Prof Meurer said.
“But the old theories, they have been replaced by theories that galaxies form over a longer time, gradually expanding outwards and with older stars closer to the center of the disc.”
He said the discovery would help astronomers understand where galaxies end. Thus, no longer wasting time, and computer processing power, on data beyond their edges.
Professor Meurer said that the next generation of radio telescopes will generate enormous amounts of data.
“When the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) comes online in the next decade, we’ll need as much help as we can get to characterise the billions of galaxies these telescopes will soon make available to us.”
Researchers published the research in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Thumbnail image: M81 Galaxy. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA