MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
This is the Local Group, a cluster of a few dozen mostly small galaxies to which our own Milky Way (top left) belongs. The Milky Way is one of only three substantial galaxies in this group, the others being the similarly sized Andromeda (M31, centre) and the somewhat smaller Triangulum (M33, lower right). All the other galaxies are far smaller, and their sizes have been enlarged in this image for clarity. Most of these are dwarf spheroidal galaxies, orbiting the Milky Way or Andromeda, with the notable exception of the Milky Way's Magellanic Clouds, which are irregular. We view the system from a vantage point 6.5 Mly (million light-years) beyond the Milky Way. Andromeda is just over 4 Mly away from us, and Triangulum is about 0.5 Mly further still.
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