Hubble’s High-Definition Panoramic View of the Andromeda Galaxy

This sweeping chicken’s-eye view of a portion of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) is the sharpest picture ever taken of our galactic next-door neighbor. Credit score: NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and L.C. Johnson (College of Washington), the PHAT staff, and R. Gendler

Astronomers have pieced collectively the cannibalistic previous of our neighboring giant galaxy Andromeda, which has now set its sights on the Milky Approach as its subsequent most important course.   

The galactic detective work discovered that Andromeda has eaten a number of smaller galaxies, probably inside the previous couple of billion years, with left-overs present in giant streams of stars.

ANU researcher Dr. Dougal Mackey, who co-led the research with Professor Geraint Lewis from the College of Sydney, stated the worldwide analysis staff additionally discovered very faint traces of extra small galaxies that Andromeda devoured up even earlier, maybe way back to 10 billion years when it was first forming.

“The Milky Way is on a collision course with Andromeda in about four billion years. So knowing what kind of a monster our galaxy is up against is useful in finding out the Milky Way’s ultimate fate,” stated Dr. Mackey from the ANU Analysis College of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“Andromeda has a much bigger and more complex stellar halo than the Milky Way, which indicates that it has cannibalized many more galaxies, possibly larger ones.”

The indicators of historical feasting are written in the stars orbiting Andromeda, with the staff learning dense teams of stars, generally known as globular clusters, to disclose the historical mealtimes. 

“By tracing the faint remains of these smaller galaxies with embedded star clusters, we’ve been able to recreate the way Andromeda drew them in and ultimately enveloped them at the different times,” Dr. Mackey stated.    

The invention presents a number of new mysteries, with the two bouts of galactic feeding coming from fully completely different instructions.

“This is very weird and suggests that the extragalactic meals are fed from what’s known as the ‘cosmic web’ of matter that threads the universe,” stated Professor Lewis from the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and College of Sydney College of Physics.

“More surprising is the discovery that the direction of the ancient feeding is the same as the bizarre ‘plane of satellites,’ an unexpected alignment of dwarf galaxies orbiting Andromeda.”

Dr. Mackey and Professor Lewis had been half of a staff that beforehand found such planes had been fragile and quickly destroyed by Andromeda’s gravity inside a couple of billion years.

Andromeda the Monster

Andromeda has eaten a number of smaller galaxies, probably inside the previous couple of billion years, with left-overs present in giant streams of stars. Credit score: Dougal Mackey, ANU

“This deepens the mystery as the plane must be young, but it appears to be aligned with ancient feeding of dwarf galaxies. Maybe this is because of the cosmic web, but really, this is only speculation,” Professor Lewis stated.

“We’re going to have to think quite hard to unravel what this is telling us.”

Dr. Mackey stated learning Andromeda additionally knowledgeable understanding about the means our galaxy has grown and advanced over many billions of years. 

“One of our most important motivations in learning astronomy is to know our place in the Universe. A means of studying about our galaxy is to review others which might be just like it, and attempt to perceive how these techniques fashioned and advanced. 

“Sometimes this can actually be easier than looking at the Milky Way, because we live inside it and that can make certain types of observations quite difficult.”

The research, printed in Nature, analyzed information from the Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey, generally known as PAndAS.

“We are cosmic archaeologists, except we are digging through the fossils of long-dead galaxies rather than human history,” stated Professor Lewis, who’s a number one member of the survey.


The staff concerned establishments from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada, France, and Germany.


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