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Space & Astronomy

Andromeda killed and ate our galactic sibling

July 23, 2018 | Comment icon 4 comments



Andromeda has quite the appetite. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Scientists have discovered that the Milky Way once had a sibling that was consumed by our neighboring galaxy.
In a new study, scientists reconstructed events that occurred two billion years ago by conducting a detailed survey of the stars found in the faint halo which surrounds the nearby Andromeda galaxy.

Originally thought to have been built up from multiple smaller galaxies over a long period of time, this mysterious halo is now believed to have formed primarily from the remnants of M32 - a satellite galaxy that was once a similar size to our own before its outer layers were consumed.

"It's kind of like a child eating dinner, and then looking on the floor afterwards and finding breadcrumbs all around," said postdoctoral researcher Richard D'Souza from the University of Michigan.
"You know what's been eaten."

After it was cannibalized, M32 was reduced to little more than a small, dense core.

"It was shocking to realise that the Milky Way had a large sibling and we never knew about it," said study co-author Eric Bell. "Astronomers have been studying the Local Group - the Milky Way, Andromeda and their companions - for so long."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (4)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Nnicolette 4 years ago
They sure do a lot to push that gross metaphor. I'd like to think that m32 was just attracted to Andromeda and came over for a visit and left shoes outside the door... But maybe that's not quite as good of an analogy Sorry I guess after the depiction of a cannibalistic kid eating our neighbor and finding the remaining crumbs on the floor it's hard to Pay attention to what they meant.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Orphalesion 4 years ago
Andromeda should be careful, that m23 will go straight to her hips!
Comment icon #3 Posted by third_eye 4 years ago
Since we're on the hips, I'd like to see the rest ... ~
Comment icon #4 Posted by L.A.T.1961 4 years ago
Our Milky Way has a date with Andromeda, in a few billion years.


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