Scientists have known for part time the the Milky method Galaxy is not alone in the Universe. In addition to our galaxy being component of the Local team – a collection of 54 galaxies and also dwarf galaxies – we space also component of the larger formation known together the Virgo Supercluster. For this reason you can say the Milky way has a most neighbors.

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Of these, most civilization consider the Andromeda Galaxy to it is in our the next galactic cohabitant. But in truth, Andromeda is the closestly spiral galaxy, and also not the the next galaxy through a lengthy shot. This distinction falls to a formation that is in reality within the Milky way itself, a dwarf galaxy the we’ve only known around for a small over a decade.

Closest Galaxy:

At present, the closet well-known galaxy to the Milky method is the Canis significant Dwarf Galaxy – aka. The Canis major Overdensity. This stellar formation is around 42,000 irradiate years indigenous the galactic center, and also a mere 25,000 irradiate years from our Solar System. This puts it closer to us than the facility of our own galaxy, i beg your pardon is 30,000 light years far from the Solar System.

Illustration that the Canis Dwarf Galaxy and also its associated tidal (shown in red) in relationship to our Milky Way. Credit: R. Ibata (Strasbourg Observatory, ULP) et al./2MASS/NASA


The Canis significant Dwarf Galaxy Dwarf Galaxy is thought to contain one exchange rate stars in all, a relatively high-percentage of which room in the Red giant Branch phase of their lifetimes. It has actually a around elliptical shape and also is believed to save as plenty of stars together the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy, the previous competitor for the next galaxy come our location in the Milky Way.

In enhancement to the dwarf galaxy itself, a long filament that stars is visible rolling behind it. This complex, ringlike structure – i beg your pardon is occasionally referred to together the Monoceros Ring – wraps about the galaxy three times. The present was very first discovered in the beforehand 21st century by astronomers conducting the Sloan Digital sky Survey (SDSS).

It remained in the course of investigate this ring that stars, and also a carefully spaced team of globular clusters comparable to those linked with the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy, the the Canis major Dwarf Galaxy was first discovered. The current theory is that this galaxy to be accreted (or swallowed up) by the Milky method Galaxy.

Other globular clusters the orbit the center of ours Milky method as a satellite – i.e. NGC 1851, NGC 1904, NGC 2298 and NGC 2808 – are thought to have actually been part of the Canis major Dwarf Galaxy prior to its accretion. It also has linked open clusters, which room thought come have developed as a result of the dwarf galaxy’s heaviness perturbing material in the galactic disk and stimulating star formation.

Images the a few examples of merger galaxies taken by the Hubble space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA/STScI/A. Evans/NRAO/Caltech


Prior come its discovery, astronomers believed that the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy to be the the next galactic development to ours own. At 70,000 light years from Earth, this galaxy was identified in 1994 to it is in closer to united state than the huge Magellanic Cloud (LMC), the rarely often rare dwarf galaxy that is located 180,000 irradiate years native Earth, and also which previously held the title of the closest galaxy to the Milky Way.

All the that changed in 2003 once The Canis significant Dwarf Galaxy was found by the two Micron All-Sky inspection (2MASS). This collaborative huge mission, which took place in between 1997 and also 2001, relied top top data derived by the Mt. Hopkins Observatory in Arizona (for the northern Hemisphere) and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile (for the southern hemisphere).

From this data, astronomers to be able to conduct a inspection of 70% of the sky, detecting around 5,700 celestial resources of infrared radiation. Infrared astronomy takes advantage of developments in astronomy that see an ext of the Universe, due to the fact that infrared irradiate is no blocked through gas and also dust to the same extent as clearly shows light.

Because the this technique, the astronomers were able come detect a very significant over-density of course M gigantic stars in a part of the sky inhabited by the Canis significant constellation, along with several other related structures composed of this kind of star, two of which kind broad, faint arcs (as checked out in the image close to the top).

An artist depicts the incredibly powerful flare that erupted native the red dwarf star EV Lacertae. Credit: Casey Reed/NASA

The ubiquity of M-class stars is what make the formation easy come detect. This cool, “Red Dwarfs” room not very luminous contrasted to various other classes of stars, and also cannot also be seen v the naked eye. However, lock shine really brightly in the infrared, and appeared in good numbers.

The exploration of this galaxy, and subsequent evaluation of the stars associated with it, has provided some assistance for the current theory the galaxies may thrive in size by swallowing their smaller neighbors. The Milky method became the dimension it is now by eat up various other galaxies prefer Canis Major, and it continues to carry out so today. And since stars from the Canis significant Dwarf Galaxy space technically already part of the Milky Way, that is by an interpretation the nearest galaxy to us.

As already noted, it to be the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy that hosted the place of closestly galaxy to our very own prior to 2003. In ~ 75,000 irradiate years away. This dwarf galaxy, which is composed of 4 globular clusters the measure part 10,000 light-years in diameter, was found in 1994. Before that, the big Magellanic Cloud was believed to be our the next neighbor.

The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is the closest spiral galaxy to us, and though it’s gravitationally bound come the Milky Way, it’s not the closestly galaxy by much – gift 2 million irradiate years away. Andromeda is at this time approaching ours galaxy at a speed of about 110 kilometers every second. In around 4 exchange rate years, the Andromeda Galaxy is intended to merge v out own, forming a single, super-galaxy.

Future the the Canis major Dwarf Galaxy:

Astronomers additionally believe the the Canis significant Dwarf Galaxy is in the process of being pulled apart by the gravitational ar of the an ext massive Milky way Galaxy. The key body that the galaxy is currently extremely degraded, a procedure which will continue as it travel around and also through ours Galaxy.

In time, the accretion process will likely culminate with the Canis significant Dwarf Galaxy merging completely with the Milky Way, thus depositing the 1 billion stars come the 200 t0 400 billion that space already component of our galaxy.

We have actually written numerous interesting write-ups on galaxies below at world Today. Here’s closest Galaxy Discovered, exactly how did the Milky method Form?, How many Galaxies room there in the Universe?, What is the Milky method Collision, Spiral Galaxies can eat Dwarfs everywhere the Universe and also The Canis significant Constellation.

For more information, examine out this write-up from the Spitzer room Telescope‘s website about the galaxies that are closest to the Milky means Galaxy. And here is a video by the same author on the subject.

Astronomy actors has some exciting episodes on the subject. Here’s illustration 97: Galaxies and Episode 99: The Milky Way.


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CategoriesAstronomy, galaxies, overview to space Tags2MASS, Andromeda Galaxy, canis significant dwarf galaxy, Featured, galaxies, huge Magellanic Cloud, Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy, Two-Micron All-Sky survey

5 Replies to “What is the closestly Galaxy to the Milky Way?”

kevinjardine says:
January 5, 2017 at 9:00 am

You might want to update this article. As detailed in the Wikipedia post you attached to, the visibility of the Canis significant Dwarf Galaxy is hotly disputed and many authorities imply that the “overdensity” in this direction is just a sign of the corrugated wavy nature the the outer Milky Way, no a separate structure.

So ns think that might make the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy the closest actual galaxy.

See more: How Many Quintuplets Are There In The World, Extremely Rare All

Kevin JardineGalaxy Map


Thanks for the link(s) Kevin! very cool… I suggest that everyone take a look in ~ this really impressive work.

A pair years earlier I developed a 12 1/2″ Newtonian and my fascination with galaxies exploded. Through my old 4″ Schmidt Cassegrain I might see numerous galaxies. Through the 12 1/2″ I have the right to see countless galaxies and I prowl the night sky for see of colliding galaxies.