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January 11 2013

Largest-known spiral galaxy may give birth to new small galaxy, say astronomers


A multinational team of astronomers has discovered the largest-known spiral galaxy. While spiral galaxy NGC 6872 has ranked among the biggest stellar systems for years, astronomers recently labeled it the largest-known spiral galaxy after examining data from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) mission. NGC 6872 stretches more than 522,000 light-years, making it more than five times the size of our Milky Way galaxy.

GALEX has played an essential role in astronomers’ ability to study NGC 6872.

“Without GALEX’s ability to detect the ultraviolet light of the youngest, hottest stars, we would never have recognized the full extent of this intriguing system,”...

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