Universe’s Largest Known Galaxy Is Five Times Bigger Than Milky Way

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Jan. 11 2013 4:39 PM

Universe’s Largest Known Galaxy Is Five Times Bigger Than Milky Way

A spiral galaxy that reaches five times longer than the Milky Way has been measured by researchers, making it the largest known in the universe.

NGC 6872’s spiral arms are separated by a massive 522,000 light-years, as opposed to about 100,000 light-years for the Milky Way. NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer spacecraft provided the detailed measurement after years of study.

There is no evidence of recent star formation, so the galaxy probably formed at least several billion years ago with an unusual appearance that scientists suspect is caused by gravitational interaction with a neighboring galaxy.

NASA launched the GALEX telescope in April 2003, but researchers have continued the mission with private funds since last year.