Crumb stars suggest Milky Way was cannibalistic
March 7th, 2013
09:52 AM ET

Crumb stars suggest Milky Way was cannibalistic

By Jessica Shugart, Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Jessica Shugart is a science communication graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Billions of years after going on a cannibalistic binge, our own Milky Way galaxy has been implicated by the stale crumbs it left behind.

Astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, used Hubble Space Telescope data to spot the crumbs - ancient stars thought to be remnants of a dwarf galaxy engulfed by our hungry Milky Way when it was still young.

The finding, to be published in the upcoming issue of "The Astrophysical Journal," supports the hypothesis that the Milky Way grew by pulling in smaller galaxies and claiming them as its own.

The researchers found the stars while looking at data from the Andromeda galaxy - the next big thing the Milky Way is destined to overtake. In about 4.5 billion years, the two are set to meet up and form an elliptical galaxy (Milkomeda?). In order for astronomers to focus on stars in Andromeda, they had to cancel out the annoying stars that orbited the outer reaches of our own galaxy.

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