Astronomers have successfully traced the violent and disastrous development of Andromeda, our nearest galactic neighbor, by analyzing the makeup and motion of more than 500 stars within the nearby galaxy.
Discovered 2.5 million light-years from Earth, Andromeda is the closest large neighbor to our galaxy, called the Milky Way. It is believed to have had a certain number of interactions with other galaxies and globular clumps, creating structures like Andromeda’s Giant Stellar Stream.
In current work, researchers observed the distinct chemical compositions and activities of 556 red giant branch stars in a portion of Andromeda known as the Northeast shelf.
The team deduced that the shelf is a tidal characteristic of a stream of stars and material formed by gravitational interactions with another galaxy and that it includes mostly the debris from the effect of this cosmic collision.
Ivanna Escala, who is a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, announced in a statement that “The remnants of each crash can be identified by studying the movement of the stars and their chemical compositions,”
“Together this information serves as a kind of fingerprint that identifies stars that joined a galaxy in a collision,” she added.
Researching these streams of material can assist the scientists in understanding how a galaxy gains more material and may disclose the history, appearance, and composition of the galaxy and its surrounding details,