Recent discoveries have unveiled ancient relics from the birth of the Milky Way galaxy, shedding light on its formation and evolution over billions of years. The findings have provided valuable insights into the origins of our galaxy, challenging our previous understanding of its early stages.

In a groundbreaking analysis based on data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia telescope, astrophysicist Khyati Malhan and astronomer Hans Walter-Rix of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have identified two streams of stars near the center of the Milky Way that are nearly as old as the Universe itself. These ancient streams, named Shiva and Shakti after the creators of the Universe in Hindu mythology, offer a glimpse into the early history of our galaxy.

The Gaia telescope has played a crucial role in this discovery by providing unprecedented data on the 3D positions, velocity, and metallicity of stars in the Milky Way. Metallicity, which indicates the presence of metallic elements in a star’s composition, serves as a key indicator of a star’s age. By analyzing this data, astronomers can identify groups of stars that share similar properties and trace their origins back to ancient times.

The Milky Way is believed to have started forming approximately 13 billion years ago, during a period of rapid star and galaxy formation in the early Universe. Galactic archaeology aims to reconstruct the history of our galaxy by studying populations of stars with ancient origins. The discovery of Shiva and Shakti has provided new insights into the processes that shaped the Milky Way in its infancy.

The Structure of Shiva and Shakti

Shiva and Shakti have been found to have a mass equivalent to around 10 million Suns, orbiting in alignment with the rotation of the Milky Way. Shiva, located closer to the galactic center, exhibits more elliptical orbits, while Shakti, situated farther out, follows more circular paths. These distinct structures suggest that the two streams formed independently before merging with the evolving Milky Way, contributing to its growth and development.

The identification of Shiva and Shakti as remnants of ancient filaments and tendrils that fed into the Milky Way’s formation has significant implications for our understanding of galactic evolution. By studying these ancient structures, astronomers can unravel the complex processes that have shaped our galaxy over billions of years, offering new perspectives on its origins and development.

The discovery of the ancient streams Shiva and Shakti near the center of the Milky Way represents a major milestone in our exploration of the galaxy’s origins. By leveraging the wealth of data provided by the Gaia telescope, researchers have unlocked a treasure trove of information about the early history of our galactic home. As we continue to unravel the mysteries of the Milky Way’s birth, new revelations and discoveries are sure to reshape our understanding of the cosmos.

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