Click to see a larger image (CREDIT: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration)

 

This behemoth is NGC 1132 and it’s found 320-million light-years away in the constellation Eridanus. The galaxy is officially classified as a “giant elliptical” for the galaxy is incredibly massive, containing an upwards of a trillion stars. If you think NGC 1132 kicks butt in visible matter, you should see the amount of dark matter present in this galaxy; scientists have found concentrations of that invisible gunk comparable to the levels seen in entire galaxy groups.

 

In addition to the large glob of stars, NGC 1132 hosts a cloud of dwarf galaxies, giving the entire structure the classification of a “fossil group”. How fossil groups form isn’t widely understood. Currently, scientists believe these systems are the end results of a cannibalism epidemic that could have gripped the universe in a time where very few large galaxies existed, helping to facilitate the merging of smaller galaxies.


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