At approximately 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda galaxy, or M31, is our Milky Way's largest galactic neighbor.
The finding, by an international team of astronomers, including Professor Geraint Lewis from the University of Sydney's School of Physics, is announced today in Nature. "Early in 2013 we announced our startling discovery that half of the dwarf galaxies surrounding the Andromeda Galaxy are orbiting it in an immense plane" said Professor Lewis. "This plane is more than a million light years in diameter, but is very thin, with a width of only 300 000 light years."
The universe contains billions of galaxies. Some, such as the Milky Way, are immense, containing hundreds of billions of stars. Most galaxies, however, are dwarfs, much smaller and with only a few billion stars. For decades astronomers have used computer models to predict how these dwarf galaxies should orbit large galaxies. They had always found that they should be scattered randomly. "Our Andromeda discovery did not agree with expectations, and we felt compelled to explore if it was true of other galaxies throughout the universe," said Professor Lewis.
Using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a remarkable resource of colour images and 3-D maps covering more than a third of the sky, the researchers dissected the properties of thousands of nearby galaxies.
"We were surprised to find that a large proportion of pairs of satellite galaxies have oppositely directed velocities if they are situated on opposite sides of their giant galaxy hosts", said lead author Neil Ibata of the Lycée International in Strasbourg, France. Everywhere we looked we saw this strangely coherent co-ordinated motion of dwarf galaxies. From this we can extrapolate that these circular planes of dancing dwarfs are universal, seen in about 50 percent of galaxies," said Professor Geraint Lewis. This is a big problem that contradicts our standard cosmological models. It challenges our understanding of how the universe works including the nature of dark matter."
The researchers believe the answer may be hidden in some currently unknown physical process that governs how gas flows in the universe, although, as yet, there is no obvious mechanism that can guide dwarf galaxies into narrow planes.
Some experts, however, have made more radical suggestions, including bending and twisting the laws of gravity and motion. "Throwing out seemingly established laws of physics is unpalatable," said Professor Lewis, "but if our observations of nature are pointing us in this direction, we have to keep an open mind. That's what science is all about."
“Everything your scientists have seen in physics happens in pairs. At the moment, there are four laws of physics in your three-dimensional paradigm. They represent two pairs of energy types. Eventually there will be six. At the center of your galaxy is what you call a black hole, but it is not a single thing. It is a duality. There is no such thing as "singularity". You might say it's one energy with two parts - a weak and a strong quantum [multidimensional] force.
The entire [Milky Way] galaxy revolves as one plate, in a very counter-intuitive way. The stars and the constellations do not orbit within the rules of Newtonian physics that you are used to seeing all around you in your own solar system. For the stars and clusters in your galaxy, distance from the center does not matter. All the stars rotate as one.
The astronomers can look into the cosmos and they will discover different physics in different galaxies.
Physics is supposed to be random, following rules that are random. Yet it didn't happen that way. The better the instruments got of the astronomer, the more they realized there had to be intelligence in the design. You think physics is simply the rules of the way things work? Let me ask you a question: How do you explain what astronomers have named "intelligent design"?
Against all odds, the Universe was created for life.”