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What is a Satellite Galaxy?

A Satellite Galaxy is a small galaxy that is in orbit round a larger galaxy. Our Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy both have them. These satellite galaxies orbit their larger neighbour in the same way a moon orbits a planet and a planet orbits the a star. Studying these satellite galaxies could in a way help with calculating the total mass of our galaxy. AASNOVA

Whilst its not been totally ruled out, it is slim that life could be found in the satellite galaxies. There is because the environment of the galaxy isn't very favourable. The galaxies will have low rates of star formation and risk being torn apart by interaction with larger, more stronger galaxies. It can't be ruled out though. Its probably best to look for life in other parts of the galaxy or further afield such as in the Andromeda Galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy is more stable and therefore more likely to host planets and ultimately life. Cornell

Large and Small Magellanic Clouds

The most well know satellite galaxies of the milky way are the Large Magellanic Cloud and the lesser Small Magellanic Cloud, both of these are dwarf galaxies which can be seen with the naked eye. They can be found in the constellations of Dorado and Tucana respectively. They are named after the explorer Ferdinand Megellan, a Portuguese explorer who circumnavigated the world.

Even though the Magellanic Clouds are smaller, that doesn't mean that the stars within them are dwarves as well. R136a star is one of the most massive stars that we have so far discover. It can be located in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The Large Magellanic Cloud

The Large Magellanic Cloud has twice the radius as the smaller one hence their names, Large and Small. The Larger is the nearest by about 36 light years. In terms of space distance, it is nothing.

There are other satellite galaxies such as Leo I and Leo II but apparently, there should be more galaxies orbiting us than there really are at present or so it was thought. Further analysis of the data began finding additional satellite galaxies in our neighbourhood, more than what had been predicted. Quanta Mag

The Crater II Satellite Galaxy was a recent find, it was discovered in 2016, the Antlia 2 galaxy was discovered in 2018. It is likely that there are other satellite dwarf galaxies out there. Wiki

Galactic Cannibalism

If a satellite galaxy got to close to our galaxy, it could be ripped apart, blasted away or be cannibalised, that it is consumed by the larger of the galaxies. The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy is a dwarf galaxy hence its name that has gotten too close to the Milky Way and is currently being consumed by it.

the Sun and the Earth is closer to the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy than we are to Sagittarius A*, the Supermasssive black hole that is at the centre of our Milky Way. The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy will over time be fully integrated into our galaxy.

Our galaxy will one day collide with the Andromeda Galaxy and merge to become the milkomeda galaxy, we will not end up as a satellite galaxy of Andromeda Galaxy. Don't fret, it won't happen for at least another 5 billion years which by that time, we'll have managed to get off this planet and began colonising elsewhere.

Andromeda Galaxy and Others

The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest major galaxy to our own. The Andromeda Galaxy has a diameter of 220,000 Light Years, which is roughly twice the diameter of our own. The distance to the Andromeda Galaxy is about 2.43 million to 2.65 million light years but is reducing at a distance of 75 miles a second. Long way to go.

Scientists have noticed that our galaxy is nothing special and that the Andromeda Galaxy has its own satellite galaxies. The most well known is Le Gentil as its also known, Messier 32. The Messier number was given by Charles Messier, a French astronomer who lived around the 18th - 19the Century.

Other galaxies out there will also have satellite galaxies but they will be harder to spot as they are so far away. Satellite galaxies are small in size but it would seem large in numbers.


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