See Inside Milky Way, cannibal, dwarf galaxies Our galaxy might be a cannibal 1. Long ago the Milky Way was one of many small galaxies. Over time it may have consumed its even smaller neighbors 2, growing into the galaxy we know today 3. In support of this scenario, astronomers have discovered that stars in surviving dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way today (detail) have a highly similar chemical composition to stars in the Milky Way's outskirts, a region known as the halo. This, in turn, suggests that halo stars were once part of dwarf galaxies that the Milky Way absorbed. Even now our galaxy continues to eat its brethren. A snapshot of the modern Milky Way and surviving dwarf galaxies orbiting in and around the galaxy's halo SOURCE: MARLA GEHA IN “DARK, BUT LIGHT: SMALLEST GALAXIES EVER SEEN SOLVE A BIG PROBLEM,” FOR KECKOBSERVATORY.ORG; SEPTEMBER 12, 2007 (modern dwarf galaxy configuration) four-starry-nights_4.jpg This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now! Select an option below: Customer Sign In *You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com. Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access. ADVERTISEMENT Scientific American is a trademark of Scientific American, Inc., used with permission © 2015 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.