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The Largest-known Spiral Galaxy in the Universe was discovered ‘Accidentally’

Spiral GalaxyNGC 6872 may have been a giant among giants in space, as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) already showed. But this was before an accidental discovery, courtesy of the ultraviolet probe via Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) telescope, confirmed it to be in fact the biggest spiral galaxy known to man.

What is even astonishing is that the violent head-to-head collision that begot the spiral galaxy happened  pretty recently-130 million years ago- leading to a galactic orbital extent of 522 000 light years, end-to-end, making the Solar System’s Milky Way a dwarf only a fifth of its size in comparison.

According to a university astrologist, Rafael Eufrasio, who led to the discovery, it is as if the telescope-manning team stumbled upon the spatial find by accident, for their purpose at the time was to comb the fringes of NGC 6872 in search of UV light-emitting new stars, before they were drawn right into the center of the huge spiral.

Nature of Galactic Collision

According to NASA, the outlying cluster of orbital stars on the extreme left of the spiral with a very bright effusion of light, is the galaxy IC 4970, tinier than the new find, but which now looks like the one that hurtled through the larger galaxy causing it to lengthen one of its arms, scattering stars in a long wake across some 522, 000 light years.

To come up with this particle-and light analysis-based conclusion, the scientists examined the Galex telescope’s data in its archive.

Another brilliant find to crown the discovery mind-boggling, indeed, is the fact that the impact of the collision splashed the nearby space, diagonally from the smaller upper arm of the spiral galaxy, with another  tiny galaxy whose evidence of UV light suggests that it is relatively new in existence and perhaps consists of brand new stars that are not older than 200m years.

Reports are also confirming that IC 4970, whose caustic result of collision with its bigger neighbor was to lengthen the size of NGC 6872, pilfered some cool gaseous vapor from the latter, to replenish its hole in its middle.

The unique thing about the collision that led to the expansion of the galaxy is that instead of amalgamating stars into its orbital center like others do, including the Milky Way, it threw some away to form their own galaxies, something that supersedes traditional understanding of the workings of gravity.

Reports now show that the biggest spiral galaxy known in scientific circles lies some 212m light-years from our planet in the constellation Pavo in the southern skies.

Mr. Eufrasio, who headed the findings, made the startling announcement in Long Beach, California. He works for a NASA facility in Maryland and is also pursuing his doctorate at Catholic University of America.



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