Milky Way Leftover Shell Stars Discovered In Galactic Halo

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This observation supports the view that the Milky Way has undergone continuing growth and evolution over its lifetime by consuming smaller galaxies.
(image by NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have evidence of a shell of stars left over from one of the Milky Way's meals. Researchers have revealed a group of stars moving sideways -- a motion which points to the fact our galaxy may have consumed another during its evolution.Now the team can paint an even more fine portrait of the Milky Way's evolutionary history. By understanding the motions and orbits of the 'shell' of stars in the halo, they might even by able to give us a accurate mass. 'Until now, what we have been missing is the stars' tangential motion, which is a key component. The tangential motion will allow us to better measure the total mass distribution of the galaxy, which is dominated by dark matter. By studying the mass distribution, we can see whether it follows the same distribution as predicted in theories of structure formation.'

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