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Nearby galaxies are attracted by the effect of their gravity and are grouped into clusters. The smallest clusters are called groups.
Our galaxy belongs to one of these groups: the so-called Local Group.
The Local Group has a diameter of 4 million light years and gathers about 40 galaxies. This is a still young cluster that is part of an even larger structure, called Virgo supercluster.
The Local Group has three main spiral-shaped galaxies: Andromeda, Milky Way and Triangle Galaxy. The rest are dwarf galaxies that orbit around these three big ones. Called satellite galaxies.
|Main galaxy||Satellite galaxies|
|Andromeda||Andromeda I-VII, M32, M110, NGC185, NGC147|
|Milky Way||Can Mayor, SagDEG, Magellanic Clouds, Ursa Minor,|
Draco, Carina, Sculptor, Fornax, Tucana, Sextans, Leo
Andromeda It is the largest and brightest galaxy in the Local Group. It is 2.5 million light years from Earth and can be seen with the naked eye from the southern hemisphere. It is the most distant object observable to the naked eye from Earth. Its gravity attracts the Triangle Galaxy, which could be spinning around it. It also attracts the Milky Way, and in the future they are destined to collide.
The Milky Way in the Local Group
The Milky Way is the second largest galaxy in the Local Group. Still, it is half the size of Andromeda. However, it could be the most massive, since a recent study states that our galaxy is 50% more massive than previously believed.
The galaxies of the Local Group closest to ours are Can Mayor and the Sagittarius Elliptical Dwarf Galaxy or SagDEG.
The Little and the Large Magellanic Cloud are two dwarf galaxies that are currently colliding with the Milky Way and will become part of it in the future.
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|Nearby galaxies||The Milky Way|