Image of the Day: A Gargantuan Elliptical Galaxy -A Cosmic Fossil


This odd elliptical galaxy, NGC 1132, has little dust and gas and appears as a large, isolated galaxy toward the constellation of the River (Eridanus) with little recent star formation and fascinating background galaxies far off in the distance. The mega-galaxy is most likely a cosmic fossil – the aftermath of an enormous multi-galactic pile-up, where the carnage of collision after collision has built up a brilliant but fuzzy giant elliptical galaxy far outshining typical galaxies.

In this composite false-color image, visible light is white, while the X-ray light is blue and indicates the unusual presence of very hot gas. The X-ray light also likely traces out the location of dark matter. One progenitor hypothesis is that NGC 1132 is the result of a series of galaxy mergers in what once was a small group of galaxies. NGC 1132 is over 300 million light years away, so the light we see from it today left before dinosaurs roamed the Earth.



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