Special Reviews

The Formation and Early Evolution of the Milky Way Galaxy

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Science  07 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5450, pp. 69-74
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5450.69

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Recent observations indicate that the Milky Way may have formed by aggregation of gas and stars from a reservoir of preexisting small galaxies in the local universe. The process probably began more than 12 billion years ago with material of different original angular momentum following two separate evolutionary lines, one into the slowly rotating halo and central bulge and the other into the rapidly rotating disk. The existence of distinct thick and thin disks shows that continuing mergers of satellite galaxies likely also determined the early evolution of the main structural component of the luminous Galaxy.

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