By Mindy Weisberger
Ah, babies. One day they’re crawling about, just an innocent mass of gas and cosmic fuzz. The next they’re standing on their own … swallowing another baby whole.
They grow up so fast.
That’s the gist of a new cosmic “baby picture” of the Milky Way galaxy, which reveals its humble origins, before it cannibalized another, smaller galaxy.
Approximately 10 billion years ago, a collision between two galaxies ended with one of them — a dwarf galaxy named Gaia-Enceladus — absorbed by the other, which was more than three times its size. Over millions of years, the massive cannibal absorbed its galactic meal to become the Milky Way as it is today: the spiral galaxy that we call home, and host to at least 100 billion stars.
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