This image shows one of two "exact matches" to the Milky Way galaxy found recently. The larger galaxy, called GAMA202627, clearly has two large companions off to the bottom left. In the image, bluer colors indicate hotter, younger stars, like many of those that are found in our galaxy.
CREDIT: Aaron Robotham, ICRAR/St Andrews using GAMA data
Our home galaxy may be special, but it's not one of a kind. For the first time, astronomers have discovered two far-flung galaxies that are a near-perfect match of our own Milky Way.
Spiral galaxies like the Milky Way are common throughout the universe, but the newfound "twins" share other key features as well. For example, both have satellite galaxies very similar to the Milky Way's neighboring Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, researchers said.
“We found about 3 percent of galaxies similar to the Milky Way have companion galaxies like the Magellanic Clouds, which is very rare indeed," study leader Aaron Robotham, of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said in a statement. "In total, we found 14 galaxy systems that are similar to ours, with two of those being an almost exact match."