The discovery was made in the constellation “Seglet”, which is 1,470 light-years from Earth. The question mark appears below the two young stars Herbig-Haro 46/47 that researchers have studied since the 1950s.
The discovery leaves behind more questions than answers.
– The first thing that can be ruled out is that it is a star in the Milky Way. Stars always have these huge points because they are pointed. This is called diffraction, says Matt Kaplan, a researcher in physics at Illinois State University.
Theory: Two galaxies collided
Researcher Christopher Brett at the Space Telescope Science Institute works with the instrument that captured the cosmic question mark on the image. He doesn’t think it’s a star, but two galaxies that have become one.
He believes the question mark they created is billions of light years away from Herbig Haro 46/47.
There are a large number of galaxies outside the Milky Way. Christopher Brett says this seems like something that happens relatively often — as galaxies grow and evolve through cosmic time — which means they occasionally collide with their nearest neighbours.
— and when that happens, they can be distorted into all sorts of shapes — including the question mark, obviously.
This is probably the first time that the collision has been shaped like a question mark, but something similar has happened before – when the question mark has been bent backwards. This happened when two galaxies merged in the constellation “The Crow”.
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