This just in: Milky Way as massive as 3 trillion suns

Heftier size puts our galaxy on par with neighboring Andromeda, implying a closer collision date. Findings also suggest Milky Way has four spiral arms.

6:44pm, January 5, 2009

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Hey Andromeda, you’d better watch out. Turns out your little brother, the Milky Way galaxy, isn’t so little after all. In fact, the Milky Way is just as massive, weighing in at the new estimate of 3 trillion suns, according to a new study.

That means that the two galaxies — the largest members of the Local Group of galaxies — might smash into each other earlier than astronomers had predicted.

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