A computer illustration of the Milky Way galaxy. (Dreamstime)

U-M Researchers Discover Milky Way Galaxy's Long Lost Sibling

July 23, 2018 - 12:43 pm

ANN ARBOR (WWJ) - Who knew that the Milky Way had a long lost sibling?

Researchers at the University of Michigan's astronomy department made the exciting discovery while studying the Andromeda galaxy next door to the Milky Way.

"It was a 'eureka' moment," said lead author D'Souza, a postdoctoral researcher at U-M.

Speaking to WWJ's Jason Scott, D'Souza said he and fellow astronomers reached the conclusion that the Andromeda actually tore up and devoured a larger galaxy over two billion years ago, leaving behind the remnants that now make up a galaxy named M-32 p.

"It's just so cool," D'Souza said "There was like a missing family member nobody waited to talk about."

The discovery will hopefully help scientists learn about what mergers do to galaxies, amd may alter the traditional understanding of how galaxies evolve.

"We are hoping now with this technique -- we have demonstrated this for Andromeda -- it will then be used for other galaxies further than Andromeda is from us," D'Souza said. 

The findings were published in Nature Astronomy. Read more about the study here.