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Space & Astronomy

Andromeda is comparable in size to Milky Way

By T.K. Randall
February 16, 2018 · Comment icon 2 comments

Andromeda is moving towards us at 250,000 miles per hour. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
It turns out that our closest neighboring galaxy is not the behemoth that scientists had previously thought it to be.
Up until now, the Andromeda galaxy was thought to be much larger than the Milky Way - a fact that could have dire consequences for our own galaxy when the two collide in a few billion years' time.

According to a new study by scientists at the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research however, the two galaxies may actually be approximately the same size.
Calculating the mass of a galaxy is no easy task, especially given that most of it is made up of black holes and dark matter as oppose to visible stars. To find the answer, the ICAR researchers used a new method based on observations of very fast stars made by the William Herschel telescope.

By determining the escape velocity of the galaxy (the speed an object would need to be traveling to escape the galaxy's orbit) and then working backwards, Andromeda's mass could be calculated.

The answer turned out to be between 800 billion and 1.2 trillion solar masses.

Source: Popular Mechanics | Comments (2)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Sundew 6 years ago
Imagine in a few billion years (if the Earth has not been consumed by the Sun, then a red giant) that you could look up into the night and the sky was nearly filled with the Andromeda galaxy.  I've always thought it a pity that you can't see a galaxy or two in the night sky, close enough to see them unaided and make our their structure. What a sight it would be. 
Comment icon #2 Posted by Not A Rockstar 6 years ago
Me, too, Sundew. My idea of a heaven would be to be able to hop around out there and see other planets and space events :). Stand on other worlds and enjoy their sunsets, see their night skies....


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