What galaxy can be seen from Earth?
What is the easiest galaxy to see? – The galaxies closest to the Milky Way, our neighbors, are those belonging to the so-called Local Group.
They are easily seen with an amateur telescope. Some, such as Andromeda and the Magellanic Clouds, can even be seen with the naked eye.
There are several dwarf galaxies orbiting around the Milky Way. In 1994 the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy (SagDEG) was discovered 70,000 light years away, and in 2003 the Canis Major Galaxy was discovered 25,000 light years away. These are the two closest galaxies discovered so far.
Most important nearby galaxies
Andromeda: 2.5 million light-years from Earth. Andromeda is a giant spiral galaxy, twice the size of the Milky Way. It is the largest galaxy in the Local Group. It contains hundreds of billions of stars and a large number of nebulae. At its center is a supermassive black hole. It is very bright and is the farthest object that can be seen with the naked eye. It is estimated that in about 6 billion years, the Milky Way and Andromeda will collide.
Small and Large Magellanic Clouds: these are two satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. This means that the Milky Way is pulling them with its gravity, and in the future they will be part of it. They are named after Magellan, who was the first European explorer to observe them in the 16th century. The Large Cloud is 170,000 light-years away, and the Small Cloud is 210,000 light-years away. They are dwarf and irregular galaxies, with many nebulae and young stars. In the southern hemisphere they are seen with the naked eye, as two white clouds isolated from the Milky Way across the sky.
Triangulum: it is the third largest galaxy in the Local Group, behind Andromeda and the Milky Way. It is 3 million light years away. Triangulum can only be seen with a telescope. It has a spiral shape, similar to our galaxy. It is believed that It is pulled in by Andromeda’s gravity, and may even orbit around the galaxy. The Triangulum galaxy contains the largest known emission nebula: NGC 604.
|Galaxy||Distance (light years)||Diameter (light years)|
|Large Magellanic Cloud||170,000||20,000|
|Small Magellanic Cloud||210,000||15,000|