Drawing over 800 galaxies the Great Attractor remained in Milky Way’s blind spot until just recently an international team of astronomers managed to pierce through.
Using one instrument on Australia’s CSIRO Parkes radio telescope, the research team managed to pierce through the curtains of gas and dust hiding the Great Attractor. This region has remained a mystery for years despite being theorized over four decades ago.
A fuzzy concentration of mass located 250 million light-years distance from our galaxy, the Great Attractor exerts an incredible gravitational pull on the Milky Way and other galaxies in the vicinity. The plentiful clouds of gas and dust in the Milky Way acted as a thick curtain preventing astronomers from exploring this space region.
Dubbed the ‘Zone of Avoidance’ as well as the Great Attractor, this space swath was first theorized in the 1970s with the first gravitational deviations.
Drawing over 800 galaxies the Great Attractor remained in Milky Way’s blind spot. The Parkes radio telescope has been used to spot the location of galaxies located behind our own. The research yielded unexpected results. The article featuring in the Astronomical Journal reveals that the force of the Great Attractor, the 883 galaxies drawn to this region and the approximately 300 galaxies never seen before.
The Great Attractor, this mysterious concentration of mass is now known to draw galaxies in the vicinity with a force equal to that of a thousand trillion stars. The lead author of the study, Lister Staveley-Smith with the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research stated:
“The Milky Way is very beautiful but it blocks out the view of more distant galaxies behind it. There are a few very large collections of galaxies we call clusters or superclusters, and our Milky Way is moving towards them at more than two million km/hour”.
Of the 883 galaxies found during the project, about 300 have never been spotted before. Others have only been observed in little detail. However, with a new instrument installed on the Parkes radio telescope, the quality of the observations increased.
The ‘radio camera’ is a multibeam receiver allowing the astronomers team to map the previously understudies space region 13 times more rapid and in more detail. Except for establishing the undeniable force of the Great Attractor, the research team couldn’t explain the gravitational acceleration of the Milky Way or its cause just yet.
One thing is certain. The Great Attractor is surrounded by clusters or superclusters of galaxies. Two new galaxy clusters were discovered during this project. The CW1 and CW2 galaxy clusters are located in the Centaurus Wall. In addition, three new galaxy concentrations – NW1, NW2, NW3 are key in gaining a deeper understanding of the Great Attractor.