Astronomers from the Dutch School of Astronomical Research have discovered that a globular cluster NGC 2005, a spherical collection of stars closely linked by gravity in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a smaller neighboring galaxy to the Milky Way, is in fact a relic of the fusion of a small galaxy in the LMC. According to the study published on October 18 in Nature Astronomy, NGC 2005 has a very different chemical composition from the 10 other globular clusters of CML studied by the researchers. The globular cluster, which is located some 750 light years from the center of the LMC and contains about 200,000 stars, contains less silicon, zinc, calcium and copper than the other ten clusters, indicating that the cluster does not ‘is not formed during the formation of the galaxy but acquired from a neighboring smaller galaxy during a merger. In the smaller galaxy, which scientists say has merged with the LMC, stars may have formed slowly.
During the merger, the small stars of the galaxy were separated and dispersed while the large central globular cluster NGC 2005 survived the merger by finding its new home in LMC. “We have now convincingly demonstrated for the first time that the small galaxies neighboring our Milky Way have in turn formed from even smaller galaxies,” said David Messari, astronomer at the University of Groningen, in Italy, in a press release. Messari is also one of the authors of the research.
Scientists already know that large galaxies are not spared if they have a stronger gravitational power than their neighbors. Many unusual galaxies are also engaged in a gravitational tug-of-war for more stellar matter. But the study shows that even small galaxies were able to absorb galaxies smaller than themselves.
According to scientists, one of the interesting things is that when the merger took place, LMC would have been much smaller than it is now. The LMC is 14,000 light years in diameter, 3.7 times smaller than our Milky Way galaxy. Our Milky Way has 150 known globular clusters which are older than open star clusters and which date back to the age of our galaxy to 13.5 billion years ago.
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