Milky Way Has a Mysterious Twin


The Earth is not the only space body with lookalikes floating around the universe. The Milky Way itself has a doppelganger, scientists monitoring the Hubble Telescope reported on February 3.

Its hallmark is its configuration as a barred spiral, which is akin to the Milky Way's. Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1073, like most spiral galaxies in the universe, has a bar structure in its center.

"Galaxies’ star-filled bars are thought to emerge as gravitational density waves funnel gas toward the galactic centre, supplying the material to create new stars," Hubble said in a release. "The transport of gas can also feed the supermassive black holes that lurk in the centres of almost every galaxy."

The central bar-like structure may constitute a spiral galaxy's coming-of-age as it moves from intense star-formation into adulthood, surmised the Hubble folks. Check out this photo of NASA's latest rendering of the Milky Way to see the similarities between the two. Since our scientific instruments cannot get the perspective to view the Milky Way from afar, this is an artist's rendering rather than a photograph.

Another twin, this one 30 million miles from us, was photographed in June of last year, but that one is twice as big as the Milky Way, Discovery News reported. The new twin is our galaxy's virtual mirror image, the Hubble scientists said.

Just think: If Mother Earth has potentially 100 billion sisters in the Milky Way, how many cousins there could be in NGC 1073.

This video shows where NGC 1073 is located and points out some other unusual formations, including a couple of quasars.