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News Release Archive:

News Release 82 of 955

February 21, 2013 01:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2013-07

Stellar Motions in Outer Halo Shed New Light on Milky Way Evolution

February 21, 2013: Peering deep into the vast stellar halo that envelops our Milky Way galaxy, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered tantalizing evidence for the possible existence of a shell of stars that are a relic of cannibalism by our Milky Way.

Hubble was used to precisely measure, for the first time ever, the sideways motions of a small sample of stars located far from the Milky Way galaxy's center. Their unusual lateral motion is circumstantial evidence that the stars may be the remnants of a shredded galaxy that was gravitationally ripped apart by the Milky Way billions of years ago. These stars support the idea that the Milky Way grew, in part, through the accretion of smaller galaxies.

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Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)

Science Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Deason and P. Guhathakurta (University of California, Santa Cruz), and R. van der Marel, T. Sohn, and T. Brown (STScI)