Even though Andromeda consumed and shredded Milky Way’s massive galactic sibling, it was discovered by scientists.
The scientist did that by reconstructing the 2bn-year-old dramatic sequence of events all through the survey of stars that surround the Andromeda galaxy.
It was generally believed that the size of Andromeda was due to it swallowing up many little galaxies but the latest research shows that that bulk of starts is actually a minor satellite galaxy of Andromeda known as M32.
M32’s size is between Milky Way and Andromeda’s, but it does not outer layers as big as theirs.
“It was shocking to realize that the Milky Way had a large sibling and we never knew about it. Astronomers have been studying the Local Group – the Milky Way, Andromeda and their companions – for so long.” according to the co-author Eric Bell, a University of Michigan professor of astronomy.
M32 would have been part of the galaxies list if it had not been cannibalized.
“It’s kind of like a child eating dinner, and then looking on the floor afterward and finding breadcrumbs all around, you know what’s been eaten.” said a postdoctoral researcher, Richard D’Souza of the University of Michigan. Andromeda is close enough so its halo can be studied and the researchers can discover its dramatic mergers.
These surprising discoveries made by the researchers at the University of Michigan might estimate the fate of our galaxy. An elliptical galaxy will be formed in 4bn years after Andromeda and Milky Way will smash together because they are approaching each other at about 400,000km per hour. “We will be shredded and be part of the galactic halo,” said D’Souza.
It is just amazing how after so many years Andromeda is still hungry for more stars and more place.