Astronomers have discovered a previously unknown component of the Milky Way. By mapping out the locations of a class of stars that vary in brightness called Cepheids, a disc of young stars buried behind thick dust clouds in the central bulge has been found.
The Vista Variables in the Vía Láctea Survey (VVV) ESO public survey is using the VISTA telescope at the Paranal Observatory to take multiple images at different times of the central parts of the galaxy at infrared wavelengths. It is discovering huge numbers of new objects, including variable stars, clusters and exploding stars.
A team of astronomers, led by Istvan Dékány of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, has now used data from this survey, taken between 2010 and 2014, to make a remarkable discovery — a previously unknown component of our home galaxy, the Milky Way.