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Feb 10, 2016 12:26 PM EST

Hundreds of Galaxies Have Remained Hidden from View Behind the Milky Way

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World's biggest radio telescope detects two pulsars during trial run

Astronomers discovered a group of galaxies hiding relatively close to the Milky Way, pulling out galactic neighborhood toward them.

According to Smithsonian, the hundreds of galaxies are about 250 million light years from the Milky Way and have long been invisible to astronomers. In a study published in The Astronomical Journal, the researchers detailed how they found these hiding galaxies with the use of a huge radio telescope.

"The Milky Way is very beautiful of course and it's very interesting to study our own galaxy but it completely blocks out the view of the more distant galaxies behind it," study lead author Lister Staveley-Smith, of The University of Western Australia's International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, said in a press release. "We don't actually understand what's causing this gravitational acceleration on the Milky Way or where it's coming from.

"We know that in this region there are a few very large collections of galaxies we call clusters or superclusters, and our whole Milky Way is moving towards them at more than two million kilometers per hour."

The researchers used the 64-meter CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope to peek through the Milky Way's thick pane.

"It was not really not that surprising, because the stars and dust in our own Milky Way block a not insignificant part of the sky from our view, in optical light that is," study co-author Renée C. Kraan-Korteweg, of the University of Cape Town, told Smithsonian. "So yes, we did expect that many galaxies would be lying behind the plane of the Milky Way, or the so-called Zone of Avoidance. However, we did not know anything about their distribution in space."

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