The Largest Galaxy In The Observable Universe

It is sometimes difficult to truly grasp the size of the universe. Being 60 times the size of our own galaxy, IC1101 is the biggest we’ve seen.

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For someone growing up watching Captain Jean Luc Picard warping across the galaxy, it seems fairly simple. You have point A, you put dilithium crystals in the warp engine and you flash to point B. The only problem is that warp drive is just a theory and hasn’t yet been put into practice.

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Take Galaxy IC1101 for example. It was first observed, as many things in space were, by Frederick William Herschel I in his garden. It was then catalogued in 1895 by John Louis Emil Dreyer and came out as the 1,101st object of the Index Catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters, hence the name.

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Its size is truly astonishing. Firstly, its a long-ass way from here. It has been measured to reside approximately 320 megaparsecs away from us. That’s about a billion light years. So, even if we could travel at the speed of light, it would still take a billion years to get there. Furthermore, the light emanating from the galaxy takes a billion years to reach us and what we are seeing might not necessarily be what is there at this particular moment.

Secondly, IC1101 is 6 million light years across in size, and could contain as many as 100 trillion stars. Amongst those 100 trillion stars, there must be trillions of planets and I am pretty certain that on at least one of those planets, a guy with pointy ears is thinking about a strange galaxy millions of miles away called the Milky Way.

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