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Andromeda is a spiral galaxy about 2.5 million light years from Earth. It is the nearest major galaxy to our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Andromeda Galaxy

Andromeda Galaxy

Andromeda is a spiral galaxy situated about 2.5 million light years from Earth. It is the nearest major galaxy to us and the largest galaxy in our local group. A galaxy is dust, gas, and a collection of stars that are held together by gravity. It is a spiral galaxy and is named such because it is within the constellation of Andromeda. The constellation is named after a princess from Greek Mythology. In the myth, princess Andromeda is chained to a rock after her mother Cassiopeia annoyed the gods. The Constellation outlines the princess in chains.

Humans have been aware that Andromeda existed but haven’t always been aware that is a galaxy. At first, they though the object was a cloud of shining gas, which they called a nebula. For many years, it was known as the Great Andromeda Nebula. It wasn’t until observation techniques improved in the last century that scientists could start seeing that it wasn’t a cloud at all. The instead of seeing it as a blur they could start picking out the huge number of individual stars.

Andromeda is believed to contain about a trillions stars, many more than are found in our galaxy, the Milky Way. As one of the brightest Messier objects, Andromeda can easily be seen the with naked eye. Messier objects are a list of 110 astronomical objects that were found by the French astronomer Charles Messier.

Andromeda Facts

  • Distance to Earth: 2540000 lightyears
  • Size (Diameter): 220,000 light years
  • Estimated total mass 1200 billion solar masses
  • Number of Stars: 1 trillion
  • Other names: M31
Learn more about the stars and other celestial bodies in our Picture Encyclopedia of Astronomy Terms!
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