NASA’s Hubble Telescope Snaps Gigantic Galaxy UGC 2885 (Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and B Holwerda (University of Louisville))
Hubble Space Telescope, which belongs to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), snapped mesmerising image of a majestic spiral galaxy. Galaxy UGC 2885, which may be the largest known in the local universe, is 232 million light-years away. It is 2.5 times wider than our Milky Way and contains 10 times as many stars.
In a statement, spacetelescope.org said, “Despite its gargantuan size, researchers are calling it a ‘gentle giant’ because it looks as if it has been sitting quietly over billions of years, possibly sipping hydrogen from the filamentary structure of intergalactic space. This is fuelling modest ongoing star birth at a rate half that of our Milky Way. In fact, its supermassive central black hole is also a sleeping giant; because the galaxy does not appear to be feeding on much smaller satellite galaxies, it is starved of infalling gas.”
“A number of foreground stars in our Milky Way can be seen in the image, identified by their diffraction spikes. The brightest appears to sit on top of the galaxy’s disc, though UGC 2885 is really 232 million light-years farther away. The giant galaxy is located in the northern constellation Perseus,” it added.
Galaxy UGC 2885 is also called “Rubin’s galaxy”, after astronomer Vera Rubin (1928–2016), by Benne Holwerda of the University of Louisville, Kentucky, who observed the galaxy with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Benne Holwerda said, “My research was in large part inspired by Vera Rubin’s work in 1980 on the size of this galaxy.” “Rubin measured the galaxy’s rotation, providing evidence for dark matter that makes up most of the galaxy’s mass. We consider this a commemorative image. The goal of citing Dr. Rubin in our observation was very much part of our original Hubble proposal,” he added.
Holwerda further said, “It’s as big as you can make a disk galaxy without hitting anything else in space.”
Recently, to mark the 30th anniversary of Hubble Space Telescope, the European Space Agency has released a calendar featuring monthly “Hidden Gems” images. The 12 images were selected from 30 of Hubble’s lesser-known “gems” based on how many likes they received on ESA’s Facebook and Instagram pages.