back to article Largest ever spiral galaxy spotted - may give birth to dwarf baby

The universe's largest known spiral galaxy and its nearest neighbouring galaxy have been interacting for some time, say astrophysicists. And all of this canoodling may result in the birth of a new tidal dwarf galaxy system 212 million light years from Earth. Computer simulation of NGC6872 and IC4970 Astroboffins using NASA's …

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That beautiful blue!

"Measured tip-to-tip across its spiral arms, the galaxy spans more than 522,000 light years, making the star system five times the size of the Milky Way."

That's a lot of empires, however if the "tip" is the extreme extension of the "arm" then the spiral itself is about as large as the Milky Way.

How about 6 million light years? Yes, we can: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IC_1101

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Thumb Up

Boffins. Is there anything they can't do?

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Pint

They haven't yet..

.. found a cure for my Monday hangover, which I'm queuing up right now.. This is pretty cool though.

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Re: They haven't yet..

Bacon fried in butter, one boiled egg and a pile of roasted almonds will cure that hangover right off. Guaranteed.

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Stop

Re: They haven't yet..

> Bacon fried in butter

We already went over this...

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Happy

Re: They haven't yet..

Yep - eat enough of those and a hangover will be the least of your worries

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Pint

Re: They haven't yet..

Another beer

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Re: They haven't yet..

Arn't almonds radioactive ?

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I'm confused...

"Understanding the structure and dynamics of nearby interacting systems like this one brings us a step closer to placing these events into their proper cosmological context, paving the way to decoding what we find in younger, more distant systems," said Goddard astrophysicist Eli Dwek. ®

"younger, more distant systems"

Isn't the very fact that one system is more distant from us than another system a pretty good indicator that it's older than the nearer system? Being it took more time for its light to reach us?

Or am I missing a lot of things?

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It's all about the frame of reference. The further away things are, the younger they appear. The faster they move away from you the slower they appear to age.

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Re: I'm confused...

Older is younger, but larger systems likely also have longer development times.

The real mystery of dark matter in galactic clusters is its apparent prolate nature, as evidenced in this youtube video of the Andromeda galactic system:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnEpWjb7Hbk&feature=share

So why does dark matter prolate while luminous matter is oblate?

Could galaxies have formed along cosmic strings composed of spin-axis-aligned dark-matter Planck masses?

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Boffin

Re: I'm confused...

The deal is that since the galaxy is 212e6 ly away, what we're seeing is something that happened 212e6 years ago---at which time the galaxy was reasonably young. If we could wormhole over there now (whatever that means under general relativity) we'd be seeing an older galaxy, but until then we're stuck with what comes down from the sky.

In general, the further away a galaxy is, the younger it was at the time the light we're seeing now left it. That's why the boffins keep buying stronger telescopes to investigate the beginning of the universe. We see the far away stuff in a state closer to the Big Bang.

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Bronze badge

Re: I'm confused...

No, you don't miss much, only one link in the chain of deductions. The more distant an object is from us the longer the light we see now has taken to arrive here, and therefore we are now seeing the object as it was many, many years ago, i.e., when it was young. Much younger than it is now.

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Anonymous Coward

@Fibbles

"The further away things are, the younger they appear. "

What, like female pedestrians when viewed by a male driver?

"The faster they move away from you the slower they appear to age."

Dunno about that. Are you saying that one's exes age more gracefully than one's current partner? That sort of science could cause more than a few disputes.

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Unhappy

Re: @Fibbles

Yes.

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Gravity is only part of the story

"the gravitational interaction of the systems is spawning stars..."

Plasma filaments have been observed between galaxies, e.g. as reported in the Reg last year:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/21/gas_bridge_connects_galaxy_clusters/

It's maybe not just the gravitational interaction that is spawning stars. Electric and magnetic phenomena may well play a part both in concentrating gas and dust and in the outwards transport of angular momentum which is necessary as stars form.

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Alien

Surely...

Somewhere in that massive galaxy is something resembling life, not that we are likely to ever know.

Surely.

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