Astronomers peering into the heart of the Milky Way have discovered two gargantuan, never-before-seen structures. These vast “streams” of stars each contain the mass of 10 million suns and are up to 13 billion years old. They span wide swathes of the galaxy and may be some of the earliest building blocks of our Milky Way, scientists with the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA)  said.

The two structures — described in a new study published March 21 in The Astrophysical Journal — have been named Shiva and Shakti, after the divine Hindu couple whose union is said to have brought harmony to the universe. The newfound stellar streams appear to have merged with the early Milky Way between 12 billion and 13 billion years ago, fueling our galaxy’s growth.



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