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The Question

(Submitted February 06, 2002)

What galaxy is closest to ours and how far is it from the earth?

The Answer

For a long time, the Large Magellanic Cloud, an irregular type satellite galaxy of our own, was held to be the closest galaxy to the Milky Way. It is 179,000 light-years away.

But in 1994 the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy was discovered at 80,000 light-years. It now holds the honor.

Amy C. Fredericks and Michael Loewenstein
for Ask an Astrophysicist

PS. For a more recent update, see the "Nearest Galaxies information" page:
http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/cosmic/nearest_galaxy_info.html
which is part of our Cosmic Distance Scale site:
http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/cosmic/

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