Shining of the greatest galaxy of the Universe is caught by “dead” telescopes

It is impossible to look at the image of the galaxy NGC 6872 without emotions. This impressive image of a spiral galaxy shows long whiskers emerging from opposite ends of the structure, as if invisible giants are playing a tug of war. But there is something that makes NGC 6872 really striking – its extraordinary size. It is the largest spiral galaxy in the Universe. From end to end, the galaxy stretches for 522 thousand light-years. Thus, it is 5 times larger than our Milky Way.

The composition of a giant spiral galaxy with a bar NGC 6872 combines a visible light image obtained from the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory with far ultraviolet radiation data from NASA GALEX and infrared data obtained by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Photo: NASA

A recently published image shows the galaxy in the most detailed photo. It was obtained by combining the visible spectrum, ultraviolet and infrared radiation. All these data were obtained from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory and two space observatories GALEX and Spitzer, which had long ceased their work.

The candidate for a dwarf galaxy, which is not previously suspected (circled), is visible only in ultraviolet light, which indicates the presence of many hot young stars. Photo: Photo: NASA

It is believed that NGC 6872, located at a distance of about 212 million light-years from Earth, has such an elongated shape due to its gravitational interaction with the neighboring disk galaxy IC4970, which has only 1/5 of the mass of its larger neighbor. Usually such gravitational interactions lead to galactic merger. But in this particular case, according to the analysis of the new combined image, astronomers claim that a new galaxy appears as a result of the interaction of NGC 6872 and IC 4970.

Computer simulation of a collision between NGC 6872 and IC 4970. This indicated that the closest collision of IC 4970 occurred 130 million years ago. Image authorship: NASA

“Understanding the structure and dynamics of nearby interacting systems like this one brings us a step closer to placing these events into their proper cosmological context, paving the way to decoding what we find in younger, more distant systems,” explained Eli Dwek, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Space Flight Center.

Now it remains for James Webb to examine and study this space giant in more detail.

According to Space

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