May 31, 2005As if living next to the "cannibal" galaxy Andromeda isn't bad enough, scientists now tell us that our closest galactic neighbor is three times larger than previously thought.
Four years ago astronomers reported that the spiral galaxy 2.2 million light-years from Earth was inhaling two dwarf galaxies, M32 and NGC 205. (OK, so our galaxy, the Milky Way, is a cannibal too, but that's beside the point.)
Yesterday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Minneapolis, Minnesota, researchers disclosed new information: The dusting of stars once believed to form a halo around Andromeda actually belongs to the main body of the spiral galaxy. The discovery expands Andromeda's waistline threefoldfrom 75,000 light-years (give or take 5,000 light-years) to 222,000 light-years.
No wonder the galaxy is the most distant space object visible to the naked eye.
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