Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Galaxy IC 1101

Of the 100,000 million galaxies in the observable universe, some had to be the largest. So far this is the one that breaks all records: the elliptical galaxy IC 1101, a supermassive beast 50 times larger in diameter than our Milky Way and with a mass 2,000 times larger. It was discovered in 1790 but was not cataloged until 1895.

This colossal concentration of stars measures 6 million light years from side to side - although depending on how it is measured it could also be said that it is "only" 3 million light years old - and its mass is equivalent to that of 100 trillion stars. As we know today, much of that mass is dark matter. So what we "see" and detect of it may well be less than 5 percent of what we actually know as ordinary matter.

IC 1101 is located 1 billion light years away from us, in the direction of the constellation Serpens (the serpent). But its size is so great that if we put it in the center of the Milky Way, it would "swallow up" by its size even the Magellanic Clouds, Andromeda and the Triangle Galaxy. Glups!

These types of galaxies are supposed to have a huge black hole at their center, and the fact that a source of bright rays was observed at that point is associated with this statement. So in addition to considering IC 1101 as the most colossal of the supermassive galaxies, we would also be talking about containing the largest black hole found to date.

photo: Pablo de Lucas. 

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