No, Andromeda is Not the Closest Galaxy to Earth

Galaxies are nothing less than large clusters of stars, planets and huge clouds of gas. At last estimate, the observable universe could have up to 2 trillion of them scattered around.


Updated version of the previous article.

Each of these galaxies, including the Milky Way, may contain stars in the billions or trillions - as is the case with the Andromeda Galaxy, famous for being visible in the night sky and considered by many to be the closest to our planet.


However, the story is not quite so.


Andromeda is located toward the constellation of the same name, and in very dark skies it is seen as a tiny cloud almost obliterated.


The galaxy is located 2 million light-years from Earth, which means that light traveling at 300,000 km / s takes 2 million years to travel through space and reach us.


Often dictated as our “neighboring galaxy,” the term confuses and leads many to think that there are no other nearby galaxies.

Great Magellanic Cloud. (Credits: NASA)


Just as the moon orbits the earth and the earth orbits the sun, our Milky Way galaxy contains its natural satellites and they are considerably closer to us than the Andromeda Galaxy.


The most famous satellite galaxies include the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud, both of which are no more than 200,000 light years away. Much closer, don't you think?


The Large Magellanic Cloud is visible even in suburban areas such as a faint bluish cloud.


The estimated distance is 155,000 light-years from Earth, its diameter is only 14,000 light-years, twenty times smaller than our galaxy's and ten times fewer stars.

Little Magellanic Cloud. (Credits: ESA / Hubble)


The Little Cloud, on the other hand, is even smaller at just 7,000 light years across. It is located at a distance of approximately 200,000 light years and is visible in the sky near the Great Cloud.


Its brightness is very low, best seen on new moon nights and far from any visual pollution.


In short, in terms of size, yes, Andromeda wins as the largest and closest galaxy to be closest to us.


However, if we neglect adjectives, we have the Great Magellanic Cloud as the closest to Earth. The Milky Way has a total of 51 confirmed satellites, the Big and Small Cloud being the most famous of the group.

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