Astronomers using NASA’s flagship space telescopes have spotted what appears to be densest nearby galaxy ever seen, with stars packed so tightly that they are likely 25 times closer to each other than the stars in our own Milky Way galaxy.
Image: An arrow points to the super-compact galaxy M60-UCD1, the densest galaxy yet seen, in this composite view of images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory. At center is the galaxy M60 and its surrounding regions Chandra X-ray Observatory views are pink, while Hubble Space Telescope data appears in red, green and blue. Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, and J. Strader (Michigan State University)
The super-crowded galaxy is called M60-UCD1 and is located about 54 million light-years away from Earth and the sun. It weighs a whopping 200 million times more than the sun, packing half of this mass within 80 light-years of its center, scientists said. Such crowded conditions make M60-UCD1 a type of ultra-compact dwarf galaxy.
Scientists discovered the galaxy using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, making follow-up observations using the space agency’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes, such as the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.