A Small Curious Galaxy
13 October 2013

The small dense galaxy M60-UCD1
Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, and J. Strader (Michigan State University)

NASA recently published an interesting image, showing a small galaxy, containing a huge number of stars. The image was produced by combining images in visible light and images in X-rays of this galaxy, known as M60-UCD1. Interestingly, astronomers believe that M60-UCD1, located some 54 million light years away from Earth, is the densest galaxy in the nearby universe, since it contains a very large number of stars within a small volume.

The light year is a unit of measuring large astronomical distances, and is equal to approximately 10,000 billion km. The universe is estimated to be 14 billion light years wide.

M60-UCD1 is also very bright and massive, as compared to its type of small galaxies. It is 200 million times more massive than the Sun.

X-ray observations, obtained by the Chandra spacecraft, reveal a source of X-rays within the center of M60-UCD1. One interpretation of the presence of this source is a black hole with a mass 10 million times the solar mass.

Astronomers are investigating whether M60-UCD1 and similar small dense galaxies have originally been larger galaxies that were deprived of much of their stars, through interactions with other large galaxies. 


The Hubble Space Telescope Website

Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist

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