Galactic Encounters

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Science  22 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5636, pp. 1055-1057
DOI: 10.1126/science.1086836

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Studies of the Local Group of galaxies to which the Milky Way belongs are shedding light on some of the processes by which galaxies formed and evolved. In her Perspective, Wyse reviews recent studies of collisions between the Milky Way and smaller satellite galaxies. There is evidence for minor collisions with satellites such as the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy. But the Milky Way does not seem to have suffered any major collisions over the past 10,000 million years, making our galaxy unusual according to galaxy-formation models. Andromeda, another large galaxy in the Local Group, conforms better with expectation, showing evidence for significant recent accretion and/or disruption events.