D’Souza, with M31, courtesy of Wei-Hao Wang and Stellar halo of M32 courtesy AAS/IOP

To many amateur astronomers, M32 is a small compact satellite galaxy of M31, the Andromeda galaxy. But recent work by Dr. Richard D’Souza and Prof. Eric Bell show that M32 may be the core of a  previously more massive sibling to our own Milky Way, partially devoured by M31. This disrupted galaxy was the third largest member of the Local Group after the Andromeda and the Milky Way galaxies. By studying the stars in the distant outskirts of M31 which were left behind as debris from this merger, the team was able to reconstruct the collision. “It’s kind of like a child eating dinner, and then looking on the floor afterwards and finding breadcrumbs all around,” D’Souza told The Guardian. “You know what’s been eaten.”

Read more about their work on the UM News site, or in the GuardianCNN, or Astronomy magazine.