(ORDO NEWS) — In their quest to figure out the origin of the Milky Way, a team of astrophysicists has made a terrifying discovery.
Scientists have said that our closest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy , grew billions of years ago by feeding on other smaller galaxies.
An international team led by an astrophysicist from the University of Sydney has found evidence that the Andromeda galaxy is a “cannibal” growing thanks to “colossal periodic feasts”.
For years, the team had suspicions that the Andromeda galaxy formed as a result of the absorption of other small galaxies.
“A few years ago, we found that in the far fringes of Andromeda, in objects orbiting it, we saw that the galaxy had eaten a large amount in two different epochs,” said study lead author Professor Geraint Lewis of the University of Sydney.
“This discovery provides a clearer picture of how our local universe came to be.
This tells us that at least one of the large galaxies was sporadic feeding of small galaxies.
Astronomers predict that in about four billion years the Andromeda galaxy will collide with the Milky Way. The Andromeda Galaxy is our largest and closest neighbor in the universe.
“Over the past few decades, we have come to understand that galaxies grow by eating smaller systems.
So the little galaxies get in, they get eaten – it’s galactic cannibalism.”
The conclusions are based on the discovery of a structure of stars known as globular clusters in Andromeda that originated outside the galaxy.
The study was released last week and could help answer questions about how our galaxy formed.
“We want to know if the Milky Way did the same?
These phenomena have interesting implications for the overall picture of galaxy formation,” said Professor Lewis.
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