A Trillion Stars


Behold: UGC 2885, also known as Rubin’s Galaxy, about 232 million light-years from us. Those bright spiky stars are actually in the foreground, toward the northern constellation Perseus, well within our own Milky Way galaxy. Rubin’s galaxy – over 200 million light years further away – is vast. To wit:

Some 800,000 light-years across compared to the Milky Way’s diameter of 100,000 light-years or so, it has around 1 trillion stars. That’s about 10 times as many stars as the Milky Way. Part of a current investigation to understand how galaxies can grow to such enormous sizes, UGC 2885 was also part of astronomer Vera Rubin’s pioneering study of the rotation of spiral galaxies. Her work was the first to convincingly demonstrate the dominating presence of dark matter in our universe.

(Image: NASA, ESA, B. Holwerda, University of Louisville)


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