Hubble spotted a big galaxy that makes our Milky Way look tiny

Pablo Tucker
January 7, 2020

Because the galaxy does not seem to feed on much smaller satellite systems, it is famished by incoming gas. It's something like a stellar retirement community.

Just how the galaxy got so large is a topic of debate among scientists.

"[Many] scaling relations between the globular cluster population and parent galaxy have been observed, but these differ for disk and spheroidal galaxies [which are more massive]", said Holwerda. It was first witnessed by the University of Louisville, professor 'Benne Holwerda'. That work is now underway based on images captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Holwerda nicknamed the galaxy Rubin's Galaxy. Rubin measured the galaxy's rotation, providing evidence for dark matter that makes up most of the galaxy's mass. That in turn provided evidence for the existence of dark matter.

This Hubble Space Telescope photograph showcases the majestic spiral galaxy UGC 2885, located 232 million light-years away in the northern constellation Perseus. Not only is it estimated to be about 2.5 times as wide as our Milky Way, but it has about 10 times more stars. Astronomers also think it contains ten times the number of stars as the Milky Way.


Benne said that the recent survey was inspired by Vera Rubin's work from 1980 to find out the size of the King of the galaxies. "We consider this a commemorative image".

Holwerda offered outcomes of his group's work on Sunday at the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu, Hawaii. Holwerda and his colleagues from Canada and the United States are studying the galaxy to understand what led to its enormous size.

It's unclear at the moment how it got so big, Holwerda added. UGC 2885 is situated in a fairly isolated locale, without many galaxies in striking distance to crash into and disrupt the shape of its disk. Galaxies are often misshapen due to interactions with other galaxies. The brightest appears to sit on top of the galaxy's disk, though UGC 2885 is really 232 million light-years farther away. The structure of the arms and the disk is nearly flawless, and it has none of the tidal tails that disrupted galaxies exhibit.

Astronomers are still somewhat confused about the size and calmness of UGC 2885.


Did the monster galaxy gobble up much smaller satellite galaxies over time? Whatever the case, it took its time growing this large.

This image of the famous Sombrero spiral galaxy (M104) shows the prominent, diffuse halo of stars and globular clusters.

"It is close enough for Hubble observations to resolve the globular cluster population", the astronomers said.

The space agency will unquestionably track UGC 2885 extensively and has already proposed exploration by the upcoming 'James Webb Space Telescope' and proposed 'Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)'.


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