Space Research

Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy roughly the same size, study says

A new study has cleared the confusion regarding the size of Andromeda galaxy and has shown that our big galactic neighbor isn’t actually big and that it is roughly the same size as our Milky Way.

It has long been believed that Andromeda galaxy was two to three times the size of our Milky Way and that our galaxy was heading for destruction as it was thought that Andromeda was to engulf our galaxy. However, that might not be the case any more as the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy are roughly of the same size.

According to the study by researchers at University of Western Australia and colleagues, Andromeda galaxy weights 800 billion times more than our Sun and was at par with the weight of our Milky Way. Researchers used a new technique to measure the speed required to escape a galaxy.

According to scientists if a rocket wants to escape Earth’s gravity, it needs to travel at 11km/s. Our Milky Way is over a trillion times heavier than Earth and this effectively means that if a rocket wants to escape our Milky Way it needs to launch with a speed of 550km/s. Using this technique researchers calculated the mass of Andromeda galaxy.

Researchers say previous studies overestimated the amount of dark matter in the Andromeda galaxy. Researchers analyzed and examined the orbits of high speed stars in Andromeda to conclude that the galaxy has far less dark matter than previously thought – only a third of that uncovered in previous observations to be precise.

The new finding effectively changes the whole game in our galactic neighborhood. Previous studies have shown that Andromeda would engulf the Milky Way, but now with the masses of both the galaxies almost equal, new studies will need to be undertaken to estimate the outcome of a galactic collision between the two.

The new study and its findings has led to overturning of last five decades of research regarding the sizes of the two galaxies and their fate as and when the collision happens.

About the author

Maheen McMahon

Maheen McMahon

With multiple research papers under her belt, Maheen loves writing about science. Just fresh out of college, Mahen has great understanding about astronomy and cover space research news. You can get in touch with her here.

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