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Hubble spots colossal super spiral galaxies: Structures 14 times brighter than Milky Way

(Mail Online)    13:49, March 21, 2016

A new kind of galactic beast has been spotted in space.

Dubbed 'super spirals,' these galaxies dwarf our own and compete in size and brightness with the largest galaxies in the universe.

Super spirals have long hidden in plain sight by mimicking the appearance of typical spiral galaxies.

Now a new study using archived Nasa data reveals these seemingly nearby objects are in fact distant, behemoth versions of everyday spirals.

Pictured is a huge galaxy with the moniker SDSS J094700.08+254045.7. The galaxy stands as one of the biggest and brightest super spirals. The mega-galaxy's starry disk and spiral arms stretch about 320,000 light-years across, or more than three times the breadth of the Milky Way

Understanding more about these super spirals could shed light on how some of the biggest galaxies emerge.

Rare, super spiral galaxies present researchers with the major mystery of how such giants could have arisen.

'We have found a previously unrecognized class of spiral galaxies that are as luminous and massive as the biggest, brightest galaxies we know of,' said Patrick Ogle, an astrophysicist at Nasa.

'It's as if we have just discovered a new land animal stomping around that is the size of an elephant but had shockingly gone unnoticed by zoologists.'

Ogle and colleagues chanced upon super spirals as they searched for extremely luminous, massive galaxies in the Nasa/IPAC Extragalactic Database.

Known as Ned , this is an online repository containing information on over 100 million galaxies.

Ned brings together a wealth of data from many different projects, including ultraviolet light observations from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer and visible light from Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

In a sample of approximately 800,000 galaxies no more than 3.5 billion light-years from Earth, 53 of the brightest galaxies intriguingly had a spiral, rather than elliptical, shape.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Ma Xiaochun,Bianji)

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