Closest Galaxies in our Universe

Closest Galaxies in our Universe

Andromeda is NOT the Closest Galaxy in our Universe.

It is a long known fact that the Milky Way (our galaxy) is surrounded by millions or even billions of other galaxies. A common perception is that our closest galactic neighbor is Andromeda Galaxy. That’s not true as it is the closest Spiral galaxy but there are many other galaxies that are much closer to us. As Milky Way is a part of the Local Group having 54 galaxies and dwarf galaxies, a lot of them have minimum distances from it.

·        Canis Major Dwarf

It is our closest galactic companion as it is a part of our galaxy. It is also known as Canis Major Over-density. It is at a distance of 25,000 light years from us. An interesting fact here is that it is much closer to us than our own galaxy as Milky Way is 30,000 light years away from our solar system. Its diameter is about 5,200 light years and it was discovered in 2003. The shape of Canis Major continues to change due to the presence of a long filament of stars. This ring-like structure wraps the galaxy three times and is called ‘Monoceros Ring’.

 

·        Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical

It was believed to be the closest galactic formation to Milky Way for many years before Canis Major was discovered. It changed the pre-historic beliefs that Large Magellanic Cloud is our closest companion. Its four globular clusters are responsible for the elliptical shape. It was first found in 1994 and is located at a distance of 82,000 light years from the Earth. The diameter of this galaxy stretches to 10,000 light years.

·        Large Magellanic Cloud

It is at a distance of 163,000 light years from our solar system. Its diameter is as wide as 30,000 light years while the mass-count goes up to 10 billion solar masses. The fourth-largest galaxy is classified as Magellanic Spiral as it contains a bar of stars that is geometrically off-center. This is caused by, tidal interactions from the Small Magellanic Cloud and the gravitational forces of the Milky Way. This gives it an irregular shape as a whole. There is no exact information about the date of its discovery as it was found out somewhere in the pre-historic times.

·        Small Magellanic Cloud

It is also known as ‘Nubecula Minor’. This irregularly-shaped galaxy has a diameter of 16,000 light years while it is 190,000 light years away from the Earth. It is believed that it had barred spiral structure a long time ago which was disturbed by the attractive forces of the Milky Way. An exciting thing about this galaxy is that it is one of the farthest objects that can be seen with a naked human eye. However, you will have to go to Southern Hemisphere of our world for that. The surface level brightness of small Magellanic cloud is very low due to which you can view it only in regions which are far from city lights.

·        Draco Dwarf

Albert George Wilson of Lowell Laboratory is the discoverer of this galaxy. He did so in 1954 on photographic plates of the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS). The name Draco came from its location as it is present in the direction of the Draco constellation. This 3,000 light-years wide galaxy is at a distance of 205,000 light years from us and is spheroidal in shape. It is considered one of the faintest neighbors of the Milky Way. Recent studies have shown that this darker galaxy homes a lot of dark matter in it. Following this revelation, scientists are trying to learn more and more about this galaxy in search of getting some important information about dark matter.

·        Andromeda

This spiral galaxy which is located about 2.5 million light-years away is generally considered to be the closest to the Milky Way. Although it is not true because a lot of galaxies are present at much lesser distances, it is the nearest major galaxy. It has about a trillion stars over a diameter of 220,000 light years. As a result of this vicious vastness, it is also the largest galaxy in our Local Group. According to scientists, Andromeda is expected to collide with our galaxy in a duration of about 4.5 billion years and a giant elliptical galaxy will be the result of that massive strike.

Computer Scientist by qualification who loves to read, write, eat, and travel

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