Sunday, February 8, 2009

the biggest galaxy in the universe

IC 1101 the biggest galaxy we've found in the universe! it lives 1 billion light years away (at z = 0.0767) in the massive abell 2029 galaxy cluster. the unromantic name comes from the index catalogue which was created at the end of the 19th century.

IC 1101 floats with a girth of 6 million light years, making it 60 times larger than our milky way with its mere 100,000 light year diameter. how many stars does the most massive elliptical galaxy contain? 100,000,000,000,000 = 100 trillion = 10^14 stars. how does the number of stars in the largest galaxy in the universe compare to the number of cells in the human body? see starts with a bang to find out!


the above right image shows the entire abell 2029 cluster in optical light from the digitized sky survey. IC 1101 is the big bright one living right at the center. the left image shows what the cluster looks like in x-ray light, as seen by the chandra telescope. the optical views shows lots of individual galaxies floating around the biggest concentration of mass that sits right at the center. the x-ray light is created by very very hot gas. the image shows a smooth distribution of multi-million degree gas, concentrated at the center of the cluster, but extending far out into the outer regions! here's another optical image...


one thing i wonder... why is this the most massive galaxy in the universe? why dont galaxies get bigger? there are several galaxies at the centers of different clusters that are close to this big, but what creates an upper limit on the mass of a galaxy? (and the dark matter halo that it lives in?) basically, the limits are set by the initial distribution of matter after the big bang, time, and the expansion of the universe, but... i still wonder.

16 comments:

Anne M. Archibald said...

Is there really an upper limit? I mean, I'm guessing that the distribution of galaxies, like that of most other things, goes as a power law, so that the number of galaxies of a certain size decreases like the size to some power. So from that alone you wouldn't expect to find many really big ones; maybe the number of galaxies bigger than this one to be expected in the visible universe is <1... To test this, ideally one would simply draw the distribution of galaxies as a function of size and observe a statistically significant shortage at the large end. But the selection effects - we can see big galaxies further away, or something like that - might be intractable.

Still, if there is a cutoff, it seems like one choice is the age of the universe: if galaxies form by successive merging starting from some sort of tiny dark matter clumps (I think this is what's called hierarchical galaxy formation), then maybe there just hasn't been time for galaxies any bigger to form.

Actually, this also suggests that there should be an upper limit on the size of galaxy that will ever form, namely the size of the largest galaxy cluster (since the universe's expansion is driving clusters apart). That size is set by some sort of competition between gravitational collapse of early dark matter and Hubble expansion.

Anonymous said...

At some point, galaxies get so big that they get diabetes and heart disease and other health problems.

Anonymous said...

Space Travel To The Largest Galaxies In The Universe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4nDPQgnqeA

Anonymous said...

the laws of our world and even solar system do not necessarily govern other regions of space

Pete Condit said...

Perhaps it's just a matter of how large the black hole at the center is to begin with. That's assuming that one believes, as I do, that many "seed black holes" were created at the Big Bang.

Jon boy said...

Super massive black holes must exist and most certainly prove their presence when emitting quasars. Galaxies are monitored by a)dark matter and b)black hole consumption rates. The universe and the like is an extraordinary topic, TAKE INTEREST!

Anonymous said...

I think they just run out of matter,these big galaxies just have eat so much other ones that there is no more matter in the form of other smaller galaxies to "eat",IC1011 had the luck that is was there in a dense filled space with much other smaller galaxies,also i think this galaxy does not contain a very or better the most super massive black hole of al galaxies;because the centre of gravity of this galaxy is not at its core,there is a big region around the core with many smaller black holes who orbit around common gravity centre wich "wobbles" at the centre,with in centre a bigger one,but there are maybe 100 or more super massive blackholes inside,who knows! :)

NuovA said...

I said some days before,too much strange things,or difficult to explain and understand for some,so a short explanation what i think whats in there and do not forget that we and me like this so very,very much,because it is al so fascination:The biggest Galaxy in the universe!
In the centre of this galaxy is a giant cluster of black holes;hundreds of black holes are in orbit around the supermassive black hole wich is in the core region of this enormous galaxy,maybe there are hundreds of big black holes with about aprox 1 milion and up to 500 milion/1 billion sun mass orbiting there around the central SMBH! it is so fascinating,i maybe wrong,but the idea of this is fascinating me,i like it very much,i dream whats there i think,maybe tru or not,maybe we wil never know,thatsway i make these journeys into my mind,it is fascination and fantastic! :)

zaico_rock said...

i been looking every where and i could'n find who discover this galaxy or when it was discover i hope someone could help me

Anonymous said...

In very dense fields of gravitational bound objects orbiting each other as we seem to see at the center of galaxy but also in early planetary systems. Would not there be a natural "complication"(for lack of a better word) limit due to stability?

Would not their interacting gravitational fields slowly destabilize each other’s orbits until they either collide (Eventually becoming building enough mass to stop emitting light for us to see (black holes)) or get thrown out?

I guess what I'm trying to suggest is there not a maximum long term visible complexity of a galaxy system that might also ultimately limit its visible size?

Anonymous said...

If this galaxy is 6 million light years in diameter, I wonder if the black hole at the centre is bigger than the whopping 18 billion solar mass one known as OJ 287. I mean, if 18 billion solar masses is the biggest known, then this has to be bigger, perhaps trillions of solar masses, resulting in billions of miles of sink hole!

Anonymous said...

Ok, this is what I believe. This golden galaxy must be Heaven, or atleast I would love to think it is. Think about it, It's golden glow, it's massive size, and it's beauty. Wow! It just really gives me goose-bumps thinking about it. I'm pretty sure if God had his pick if his favorite galaxy, this would be the one. I'm just saying... its just my opinion, you don't have to agree with me or say something harsh, let's just smile and enjoy this beautiful discovery together :-) Cheers to the most beautiful galaxy in the universe!!! I love it ^_^

Ansem4life

Anonymous said...

There is an upper limit,it's called a universe.Stop me and buy one.?

Anonymous said...

When I look at any galaxy the first thing that comes to mind is how many intelligent races live there ? Its to bad we humans cant find a way around Albert's speed limit,it makes me sad thinking we will likely be stuck in our solar system forever.

Anonymous said...

So Heaven is surrounded by multi Million degree gas, sounds more like hell to me

MetricCook said...

Why is it that you do not believe in capital letters?
What I do not understand is how we can be physigally thirteen billion light years away any yet see almost back to the same time period to the first gallaxies? How is that physically possible if we all came from the same 'big bang'? Did we travel faster than light to our current location?