Amazing Facts About Andromeda Galaxy (M31), Which Is Nearest Major Galaxy To The Milky Way(Interestingawesome.blogspot.com)
The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31 or M31, is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky way. It is located in the Andromeda constellation. It was once thought to be a nebula but later, as technology developed, scientists figured out that it was actually a full-scale galaxy. Thanks to our current technology, it at least allows us to study the galactic body in a better way with greater details. There are so many questions. How vast is it? Where is it located? Can I see it from naked eye? Is Milky way going to collide with Andromeda Galaxy? Now, probably your curious brain is willing to know the answers to above questions. Answers are here. So here are some interesting facts about Andromeda Galaxy.
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- The Andromeda Galaxy (/ ænˈdrɒmᵻdə/ ), also known as Messier 31 , M31 , or NGC 224 , is a spiral galaxy (meaning that most of the stars and dust can be found either in a small, dense “core” region or within a number of long tendrils or “arms” which appear to twist away from the core in spiral shapes)approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth .
- It is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way and was often referred to as the Great Andromeda Nebula in older texts.
- It received its name from the area of the sky in which it appears, the constellation of Andromeda , which was named after the mythological princess Andromeda .
- Although the Andromeda is extremely far, it can be seen with the naked eye. In fact, Andromeda is the farthest thing in the universe that we can see with the naked eye.
- The Andromeda Galaxy is located inside of the Andromeda Constellation which can be seen in the northern sky in moonless nights.(For observers in the northern hemisphere, California astronomer Arthur Huffman says that Andromeda can be found by locating the Great Square of Pegasus constellation.)
- Scientists believe that about 5 to 9 million years ago small galaxies collided and created Andromeda.
- Andromeda is approximately 220,000 light years across, and it is the largest galaxy of the Local Group , which also contains the Milky Way, the Triangulum Galaxy, and about 44 other smaller galaxies.
- Despite earlier findings that suggested that the Milky Way contains more dark matter and could be the largest in the grouping, the 2006 observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope revealed that Andromeda contains one trillion (10 12)stars.
- It is least twice the number of stars in the Milky Way, which is estimated to be 200–400 billion.
- But, according to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, astronomers estimate that Andromeda may contain more than a trillion stars.
- Since it is the nearest spiral galaxy to us, astronomers use the Andromeda Galaxy to understand the origin and evolution of such galaxies.
- The spiral arms of the Andromeda Galaxy are being distorted by gravitational interactions with two companion galaxies, M32 and M110.
- The Andromeda Galaxy has at least two spiral arms, plus a ring of dust that may have come from the smaller galaxy M32. Astronomers think that it may have interacted more closely with Andromeda several hundred million years ago, when M32 plunged through the heart of its larger neighbor.
- The mass of the Andromeda Galaxy is estimated to be 1.5 × 10 12 solar masses ,while the Milky Way is estimated to be 8.5 × 10 11 solar masses.
- Some scientists predict that our Sun could one day move and become a part of the Andromeda Galaxy.
- Studies of the so called red shift have confirmed that most galaxies observable from Earth are travelling away from each other at high speed. The Andromeda galaxy is an exception. Pulled together by their immense gravitational forces, Andromeda and the Milky Way are currently speeding together at a combined velocity of about 250,000 miles per hour. At that pace, they will strike one another in 3.75billion years’ time.
- The Andromeda Galaxy is approaching the Milky Way at approximately 100 to 140 kilometers per second.
- The apparent magnitude of the Andromeda Galaxy, at 3.4, is among the brightest of the Messier objects, making it visible to the naked eye on moonless nights, even when viewed from areas with moderate light pollution .
- There are at least 450 globular clusters orbiting in and around the Andromeda Galaxy. Some of them are among the most densely populated globulars ever seen.
- Dozens of black holes lie here. The center of M31 is home to 26 known black hole candidates and many more have been picked out by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Like our own galaxy, there’s also a supermassive black hole at the center, with two others possibly orbiting as a binary, with a mass around 140 million times that of the Sun.
- The earliest known observation of
Andromeda was made by a medieval Persian, Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi, although it
would not be until the 20th century that other astronomers realized the strange
cloud was actually a distant galaxy filled with stars of its own.
- NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has published a large number of images of the Andromeda Galaxy, viewed via visual light as well as telescopes in the infrared and X-ray spectrum. This allows to discover more secrets about Andromida Galaxy.
- Andromeda was formed roughly 10 billion years ago from the collision and subsequent merger of smaller protogalaxies .This violent collision formed most of Andromeda's (metal-rich) galactic halo and extended disk.
- Over the past 2 billion years, star formation throughout M31's disk is thought to have decreased to the point of near-inactivity.
- Andromeda is surrounded by a large and massive halo of hot gas that is estimated to contain half the mass of the stars in Andromeda. The nearly invisible halo stretches about a million light-years from its host galaxy, halfway to our Milky Way galaxy.
- The rate of star formation in the Milky Way is much higher, with M31 producing only about one solar mass per year compared to 3–5 solar masses for the Milky Way.
- This suggests that M31 once experienced a great star formation phase, but is now in a relative state of quiescence, whereas the Milky Way is experiencing more active star formation. Should this continue, the luminosity in the Milky Way may eventually overtake that of M31.
- The rate of supernovae in the Milky Way is also double that of M31.
- Known as Supernova 1885 for the year of its appearance, it was the first to be detected outside the Milky Way and the only supernova ever recorded in the Andromeda Galaxy. Ernst Albrecht Hartwig (1851-1923) observed it on August 20, 1885 at Dorpat Observatory in Estonia. The supernova reached a magnitude of six between August 17th and 20th but then faded to magnitude 16 by February 1890.
- Speaking about Supernovas, Supernovas explode on an average once every 100 years in a galaxy. Assuming there are 170 billion galaxies in the universe, there are 53 supernovae exploding every single second.
- The Andromeda Galaxy is not the closest galaxy to ours, and in fact there is one 100 times closer called Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy that is 42,000 light years far from the galactic center and it is a satellite dwarf of the Milky Way.
- In 2005, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered that the center of the Andromeda Galaxy is composed of an elliptical ring of older red stars and a smaller, brighter, and denser disk of young blue stars of around 200 million years old around the galaxy’s central super-massive black hole of around 140 million Solar-masses.
- Even though we don’t feel it , Our entire local group of galaxies is moving at about one million miles per hour toward another galaxy group called the Virgo Cluster. The Milky Way can be seen to be just a small part of a large grouping of galaxies 150 million light years in diameter called the Virgo Super cluster.
- Andromeda (M31) is just one of the 10 galaxies which is barely visible being the most distant object visible with naked eye in the universe at the constellation of Andromeda. If it were brighter, it would appear six times larger than the full moon.
- Over Andromeda's lifetime, nearly half of the heavy elements made by its stars have been ejected far beyond the galaxy's 200,000-light-year-diameter stellar disk.
- The galaxy is inclined an estimated 77° relative to the Earth (where an angle of 90° would be viewed directly from the side). Analysis of the cross-sectional shape of the galaxy appears to demonstrate a pronounced, S-shaped warp, rather than just a flat disk.
- In 1998, images from the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory demonstrated that the overall form of the Andromeda Galaxy may be transitioning into a ring galaxy.
- The gas and dust within the galaxy is generally formed into several overlapping rings, with a particularly prominent ring formed at a radius of 32,000 light-years from the core, nicknamed by some astronomers the ring of fire.
- This ring is hidden from visible light images of the galaxy because it is composed primarily of cold dust, and most of the star formation that is taking place in the Andromeda Galaxy is concentrated there.
- M31 is known to harbor a dense and compact star cluster at its very center. In a large telescope it creates a visual impression of a star embedded in the more diffuse surrounding bulge.
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