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The Business Magazine July 2024
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University of Surrey to investigate mysterious ripples in the Milky Way

The Business Magazine article image for: University of Surrey to investigate mysterious ripples in the Milky Way
22 May 2024

Researchers at the University of Surrey is looking to find out why the Milky Way ripples and spirals, and what it might tell us about how our galaxy developed.

The university has received new funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) through its 2024 Ernest Rutherford Fellowship, which enables scientists to explore exciting questions in science.

Led by Dr Jason Hunt, the team will use detailed data on the position and motion of over two billion stars to develop new ways to simulate and model the galaxy.

Dr Hunt, an astrophysicist at the university, explained: “New data has shown that the Milky Way is out of equilibrium, with ridges, ripples and spirals in the position and motion of stars.

“Think of it like ripples on a pond after something disturbs the water. 

“The difference is, these ripples stretch for tens of thousands of light years, and they’ll take billions of years to mix away.

“By studying them, we can reveal the structure of the Milky Way, how it came to be like this, and even learn more about the nature of dark matter.”

It’s hoped the research could help discover the original ‘pebbles’ that caused the ripples observed in our galaxy’s stars.

One candidate is the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy, which has been merging into the Milky Way for the last six billion years or so.

Yet other ripples may be better explained by something from the heart of the Milky Way itself.

Dr Hunt’s study hopes to get to the bottom of these puzzles.


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Born and raised in Berkshire, Dan fell into journalism after completing his bachelor’s degree in English at UCL.

Writing for The Business Magazine and local Biz News sites has given him the opportunity to chat with all manner of small business owners and share their success stories with a wider audience.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys live music, board games and quiz shows, and is making a slow but persistent effort to learn Spanish.

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