This illustration shows the disk of our Milky Way galaxy, surrounded by a faint, extended halo of old stars. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the nearby Andromeda galaxy serendipitously identified a dozen foreground stars in the Milky Way halo. They measured the first sideways motions (represented by the arrows) for such distant halo stars. The motions indicate the possible presence of a shell in the halo, which may have formed from the accretion of a dwarf galaxy. This observation supports the view that the Milky Way has undergone continuing growth and evolution over its lifetime by consuming smaller galaxies.
Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)
Like tantalizing tidbits stored in the vast recesses of one’s refrigerator, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have evidence of a shell of stars left over from one of the Milky Way’s meals. In a study which will appear in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal researchers have revealed a group of stars moving sideways – a motion which points to the fact our galaxy may have consumed another during its evolution. (…)
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