If you were here last week, you’ll know that I talked about the visible stars in the sky. Today, we will be looking at something else visible to us. The Andromeda Galaxy, or NGC 224, or M31 (a Messier object for ya, Christine). This is one of the few objects visible to the naked eye that is not a star!
The Andromeda Galaxy is the largest one in what is called the Local Group–the collection of nearby galaxies, including our own. It is the closest spiral galaxy to us as well. It is similar to our own galaxy in that they share the same nucleus characteristics, it leads scientists to believe both galaxies are bar spirals (a classification of spiral galaxies).
Andromeda is larger than the Milky Way. It is estimated to carry double the amount of stars of ours. Fun fact: the Milky Way has an estimated 400 – 500 billion. Remember all that we see is roughly 8000 stars max. Now double all that! Wow!!!
Similar to our galaxy, (seeing a trend here?) Andromeda contains dwarf galaxies. However, it has 14 known satellite galaxies. These are like moons, but on a galaxy-sized scale.
Now, another interesting thing to think about is that this galaxy is moving towards us. All the readings and charts point to the conclusion that Andromeda will collide with the Milky Way. Take a deep breath, ’cause that will not happen for at least 4 billion years.
The chances of stars colliding are very slim. The distances are just too big. Maybe in the inner sections of the galaxies, the stars are closer, but still the distances are pretty large.
Don’t worry about our solar system. The chances of it being ejected are slim, estimates are at 12%. Oh, and if the sun continues as predicted, Earth will no longer have life on it by this time as well. Cheers! I’ll leave you with a fancy pic!