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Our Milky Way galaxy has probably collided or otherwise interacted with other galaxies during its lifetime; such interactions are common cosmic occurrences. Astronomers can deduce the history of mass accretion onto the Milky Way from a study of debris in the halo of the galaxy left as the tidal residue of such episodes. The approach has worked particularly well for studies of the most recent events like the infall of the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy a few billion years ago that left tidal streamers of stars visible in galaxy maps. The damaging effects these encounters can cause to the Milky Way have, however, not been as well studied, and events even further in the past are even less obvious as they become blurred by the galaxy's natural motions and evolution.
Some episodes in the Milky Way's history, however, were so cataclysmic...
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