The Milky Way is surrounded by many tiny dwarf satellite galaxies.
A satellite continuously orbits a more massive object. In the same way that artificial communication satellites and the Moon all orbit the Earth, many small, ancient so-called dwarf galaxies orbit the Milky Way galaxy. All large galaxies grow from absorbing smaller, neighboring galaxies but these little satellites have so far been spared. However, some are already getting pulled apart and even shredded by the enormous tidal forces and will eventually destroy them fully. Their stars will be integrated into the Milky Way and continue to shine there.
Satellite galaxies are found around most larger galaxies and are easily visible in many astronomical images. Credit: NASA
Satellite galaxies are found around most larger galaxies and are easily visible in many astronomical images.
The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds over the 1.8 meter auxiliary telescopes at Paranal Observatory, Chile. These two irregular, gas rich dwarf galaxies are the two most massive satellites of the Milky Way.
Credit: John Colosimo/European Southern Observatory.