The Triangulum Galaxy, also known as M33, is one of the closest spiral galaxies to the Milky Way. It lies 3 million light-years away, in the constellation Triangulum. The closest spiral is the Andromeda Galaxy, at a distance of 2.5 million light-years. All three are members of the Local Group, a collection of about 50 galaxies in our neighbourhood of space.
Facts about the Triangulum Galaxy
- The Triangulum Galaxy is formally described as a spiral galaxy with a weak (or possibly no) central bar and its loosely wound arms emanate from the galactic core.
- The core of the Triangulum Galaxy is a nebula – a cloud of gas and dust – called an HII region. Areas such as this are prime regions for star formation.
- The Triangulum Galaxy is actively making stars. Its starbirth regions scattered throughout its spiral arms. Its starbirth rate is several times more than the Andromeda Galaxy.
- Andromeda and the Triangulum Galaxy are linked by streams of hydrogen gas and embedded stars. The two galaxies may have had a close interaction in the past and it looks as if they will do so again in about 2.5 billion years.
- Astronomers think that a future merger between Andromeda and the Milky Way will also affect the Triangulum Galaxy, perhaps tearing it apart or cannibalising it into a larger elliptical galaxy.
- Some observers claim that under very dark skies, this galaxy can be seen with the naked eye. However, it is more easily spotted with binoculars or a telescope.