Simulations suggest that galactic winds blew the material in from elsewhere
Galaxies may grow by swiping gas from their neighbors.
New simulations suggest that nearly half the matter in the Milky Way may have been siphoned from the gas of other galaxies. That gas provides the raw material that galaxies use to build their bulk. The finding, scheduled to appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, reveals a new, unexpected way for galaxies to acquire matter and could give clues to how they evolve.
“These simulations show a huge amount of interaction among galaxies, a huge dance that’s going on,” says astronomer Romeel Davé of the University of Edinburgh. That dance, and the subsequent exchange of atoms, could be what establishes a galaxy’s character — whether it’s small or big,