The Andromeda galaxy is a spiral galaxy, similar to ours, although somewhat larger. At a distance of 2.2 million light years, the Andromeda galaxy is, at the same time, the closest spiral galaxy and the most distant object that can be seen with the naked eye. Before determining its nature through powerful telescopes, it was mistakenly considered a nebula, or cloud of interstellar matter. Through the telescope it is seen that next to it there are other galaxies, of which the most outstanding are two small elliptical galaxies.
Its shape and dimensions make it an expanded version of our own galaxy. In recent years, scientists have discovered that the Milky Way is a cannibal galaxy that has devoured - and will continue to devour - other smaller galaxies. And it seems that Andromeda is not far behind: our neighbor is swallowing her two poor satellite galaxies. It is logical, because gravity rules in the universe and galactic cannibalism seems to be common currency.
The Milky Way, Andromeda and the Magellanic clouds are part of a group of 30 galaxies called "the local group" that covers about 10 million light years. Most of the galaxies in the local group are elliptical and contain less than one thousandth of the number of stars that have Andromeda, the Milky Way or M33. In fact, after these three galaxies, the Magellanic clouds turn out to be the largest in the group, which in turn is an outer part of the Virgo Cluster, which comprises thousands of galaxies.
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