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Half of Andromeda's satellite galaxies orbit in a mysterious disk

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Large galaxies such as the Milky Way have many smaller satellite galaxies, bound to them by gravitation. According to the widely accepted theories of galaxy formation, these satellites were leftovers from the slow merger process that made the larger galaxies. We'd expected these satellite galaxies to be evenly distributed around the Milky way, but recent studies showed that many of them lie close to a single plane, tilted with respect to the Milky Way's disk. New observations may have revealed a similar structure of satellites around our closest large neighbor M31, also known as the Andromeda Galaxy. Nearly half of M31's known satellites lie in a single, relatively thin plane. These results -- as with the previous Milky Way observations -- were contrary to expectations, in which satellites would be distributed more or less spherically and moving in random directions.

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