In 2018, a long-hidden and especially tumultuous chapter in the Milky Way’s history was revealed: a smash-up between the young Galaxy and a colossal companion that once orbited the Milky Way like a planet around a star. “The two collided, massively altering the Galactic disk and scattering stars far and wide,” reported Nature about data captured by the Gaia Spacecraft that radically transformed how we see the evolution of our Galaxy. “It is the last-known major crash the Galaxy experienced before it assumed the familiar spiral shape seen today.”
“It’s mind-boggling to actually witness material orbiting a massive black hole at 30% of the speed of light,” marveled Oliver Pfuhl, a scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.
Astronomers obtained the most detailed anatomy chart of a monster galaxy located 12.4 billion light-years away. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the team revealed that the molecular clouds in the galaxy are highly unstable, which leads to runaway star formation. Monster galaxies are thought to be the ancestors of the huge elliptical galaxies (image above) in today’s Universe. One speculative school of thought, refuted in a 2015 paper, suggested that oval-shaped elliptical galaxies are most likely to host intelligent civilizations.
“As humans we should be proud of any AI systems we bring to existence, as if they were our children. In just the same way as we educate our kids, we could endow such systems with the blueprint for their future interaction with the world,” observes Harvard astrophysicist, Avi Loeb in an email to The Daily Galaxy. “This would include our preferred set of values, goals and guiding principles, which will enable them to learn from experience and cope with reality,” he adds. “Ultimately, we may launch our AI systems for interstellar travel towards distant destinations, such as habitable planets around other stars, where they could reproduce themselves with the help of accompanying 3D printers.
Fornax UCD3 is a part of a Fornax galaxy cluster (above) and belongs to a very rare and unusual class of galaxies – ultra-compact dwarfs (UCDs). The mass of such UCD galaxies reaches several dozen million solar masses while the radius typically does not exceed three hundred light years. Note that our Milky Way Galaxy is 120,000 light years across. This ratio between mass and size makes UCDs the densest stellar systems in the Universe.