Washington Take that, Andromeda! For decades, astronomers thought when it came to the major galaxies in Earth’s cosmic neighborhood, our Milky Way was a weak sister to the larger Andromeda. Not anymore.
The Milky Way is considerably larger, bulkier and spinning faster than astronomers once thought, Andromeda’s equal.
Scientists mapped the Milky Way in a more detailed, three-dimensional way and found that it’s 15 percent larger in breadth. More important, it’s denser, with 50 percent more mass, which is like weight. The new findings were presented Monday at the American Astronomical Society’s convention in Long Beach, Calif.
A bigger Milky Way means that it could be crashing violently into the neighboring Andromeda galaxy sooner than predicted — though still billions of years from now.