NGC 6872: Largest Spiral Galaxy Discovered ‘By Accident’



The largest known spiral galaxy in the universe has been discovered by accident.

The galaxy NGC 6872, located about 212 million light years away, is 522,000 light-years across – big enough to contain five Milky Ways.

Found in the constellation of Pavo, it also contains the remnants of another galaxy, IC 4970, which ‘recently’ – in astronomical terms – crashed through its spiral.

It is thought this titanic collision set off a wave of star formation which made NGC 6872 the giant that it is today.

Nasa said it lends evidence to the theory that large galaxies – including our own – “grew through mergers and acquisitions” by colliding with other smaller galaxies.

Researchers looking at data from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (Galex) satellite found the remarkably huge galaxy entirely by accident.

They were looking for star-forming regions near to the galaxy. Instead they found a huge amount of ultra-violet light from young stars – which revealed the true scale of the galaxy itself.

It is thought after further observations that the wave of new star formation was kick-started by the collision with IC 4970.

Using other telescopes like the Very Large Telescope, the Two Micron All-Sky Survey and the Spitzer space telescope, they noted that the youngest stars were found in the outer spiral arms, with the older stars in the centre.

The BBC quotes Rafael Eufrasio from Basa’s Goddard Space Flight Cente as saying the find was “a gift”.

“I was not looking for the largest spiral – it just came as a gift,” he told the BBC.

“The northeastern arm of NGC 6872 is the most disturbed and is rippling with star formation, but at its far end, visible only in the ultraviolet, is an object that appears to be a tidal dwarf galaxy similar to those seen in other interacting systems,” said team member Duilia de Mello, a professor of astronomy at Catholic University.

The find was reported at the American Astronomical Society meeting in California.

By agapesatori Posted in x

Physicists Find Evidence That The Universe Is A ‘Giant Brain’

The idea of the universe as a ‘giant brain’ has been proposed by scientists – and science fiction writers – for decades.

But now physicists say there may be some evidence that it’s actually true. In a sense.

According to a study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, the universe may be growing in the same way as a giant brain – with the electrical firing between brain cells ‘mirrored’ by the shape of expanding galaxies.

The results of a computer simulation suggest that “natural growth dynamics” – the way that systems evolve – are the same for different kinds of networks – whether its the internet, the human brain or the universe as a whole.

A co-author of the study, Dmitri Krioukov from the University of California San Diego, said that while such systems appear very different, they have evolved in very similar ways.

The result, they argue, is that the universe really does grow like a brain.

The study raises profound questions about how the universe works, Krioukov said.

“For a physicist it’s an immediate signal that there is some missing understanding of how nature works,” he told

The team’s simulation modelled the very early life of the universe, shortly after the big bang, by looking at how quantum units of space-time smaller than subatomic particles ‘networked’ with each other as the universe grew.

They found that the simulation mirrored that of other networks. Some links between similar nodes resulted in limited growth, while others acted as junctions for many different connections.

For instance, some connections are limited and similar – like a person who likes sports visiting many other sports websites – and some are major and connect to many other parts of the network, like Google and Yahoo.

No, it doesn’t quite mean that the universe is ‘thinking’ – but as has been previously pointed out online, it might just mean there’s more similarity between the very small and the very large than first appearances suggest.

By agapesatori Posted in x

Parallel Universes

Scientists now believe there may really be a parallel universe – in fact, there may be an infinite number of parallel universes, and we just happen to live in one of them. These other universes contain space, time and strange forms of exotic matter. Some of them may even contain you, in a slightly different form. Astonishingly, scientists believe that these parallel universes exist less than one millimetre away from us. In fact, our gravity is just a weak signal leaking out of another universe into ours.

By agapesatori Posted in x