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Have We Found Milky Way’s The Long-Lost Sibling Galaxy?

Have We Found Milky Way’s The Long-Lost Sibling Galaxy?


Around two billion years ago, Andromeda, the largest galaxy in our celestial neighbourhood, walloped M32p, a long-lost sibling of our own Milky Way.

This act of celestial cannibalism left behind a rich trail of evidence — a halo of stars larger than the unimaginably large Andromeda itself, and a mysterious satellite galaxy.


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This was recently discovered by a team of University of Michigan researchers led by Richard D'Souza from Pilerne, a small village 8km from Panaji. Growing up in Goa in the 90s, D'Souza couldn't have imagined that he would soon be solving celestial crimes involving astronomical distances that would make headlines around the world - and all this, as a Jesuit priest.


It has long been known that stellar halos comprise the remnants of small galaxies cannibalised by larger ones. But it has also long been thought it would be difficult to learn about any single one - that is, until D'Souza and his colleague Eric Bell, of the university's department of astronomy, used computer simulations to deduce most of the stars came from the shredding of one galaxy.

"It's similar to guessing what a small child has eaten after looking at the crumbs and mess scattered on the floor," D'Souza said. D'Souza and Bell published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Astronomy last week.

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