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Space Science

Cannibal Galaxy the Biggest In the Near Universe 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the om-nom-nom dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "Astronomers have found the most massive galaxy in the near universe: an obese, bloated monster that may tip the cosmic scales at 13 trillion times the mass of the Sun, 20 times the mass of the entire Milky Way. The galaxy, called ESO 146-IG 005, sits at the center of a dense cluster of other (but much more lightweight) galaxies, and grew to its present size by eating the galaxies around it. In fact, the so-far undigested cores of at least five other galaxies are still easily seen in the cannibal's nucleus. Astronomers are having difficulty pinning down the galaxy's exact mass, but it's clearly the biggest bruiser within 1.5 billion light years of home."
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Cannibal Galaxy the Biggest In the Near Universe

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  • by roman_mir (125474) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:33PM (#32244990) Homepage Journal

    MMmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Gaaaaalaaaaaxyyyyyyy

    om nom nom nom

  • First global warming, now solar system-eating far galaxy monsters. What could possibly be worse?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    is a botnet !

    Thanks in advance.

    Yours In Astrakhan,
    K. Trout

  • Black Galaxy? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:36PM (#32245052) Journal

    If a Black Hole is a super dense star, is it possible to have a galaxy of black holes? Or one giant one with an event Horizon as big as a galaxy?

    • Re:Black Galaxy? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:49PM (#32245278)

      By my calculations, a black hole with a radius of 100000 light years would require a mass of approximately 3 * 10^17 solar masses or about 5 orders of magnitude more mass than is present even in this monster galaxy. And of course, all that mass would have to be present within the 100000 light years, this galaxy is much more spread out than that. So no, it's pretty unlikely to have a galaxy sized black hole (and that's even assuming that I did my math right).

      • Oh boy, you are so wrong it’s not even funny.

        Because your 100000 light years premise is wrong.

        A black hole also doesn’t even remotely have the diameter of a normal star.

        I bet a black hole with all the stars of a galaxy in it, would still not be bigger than maybe a pretty large star.

        It’s mass that counts. Not radius.

        • Actually you're wrong. His assumption of size was based on a question, paraphrased as follows: "Could there be a black hole with an event horizon as large as a galaxy." He chose a number based on the size of an average galaxy as we know it. Theoretically it's possible and he did the math to figure out what the mass would need to be.

          Think before you type ;)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by wdsci (1204512)
          I mean this in the nicest possible way, but that post really makes it sound as if you don't know what you're talking about. 100000 light years is the size of a typical galaxy, i.e. the Milky Way (admittedly diameter, not radius). And the more massive a black hole, the bigger it is (as measured by the Schwarzschild radius [wikipedia.org]); a black hole with 100 billion stars - which, again, is a typical galaxy's worth - would be about 600 billion km across. That's something like 100 times the size of the orbit of Neptune,
      • By my calculations, a black hole with a radius of 100000 light years would require a mass of approximately 3 * 10^17 solar masses...

        Note that 100,000 ly is much larger than some smaller galaxies [wikipedia.org]. I could be wrong, but unlike LoC, VW Beetles, etc., "galaxy" isn't a unit of measurement.

    • Re:Black Galaxy? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mog007 (677810) <Mog007 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:55PM (#32245384)

      In approximately 10^40 years, every galaxy will be nothing but black holes. By then, all stars will either have become white dwarfs or black holes, and the white dwarfs will have even cooled off to become black dwarfs. I suppose there would be some neutron stars for large stars that couldn't reach the mass limit that turns them into black holes.

      But a galaxy of nothing but black holes? Nah. It would require nothing but very massive stars, and these stars are very rare, compared to the number of stars in the universe.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sznupi (719324)

      Quite likely pretty much all galaxies will be "a galaxy of black holes" at some point, simply because virtually everything else will decay [wikipedia.org] in the meantime (and long before black holes themselves will decay). Some models [wikipedia.org] even have the possibility that whole Universe will turn into a singularity (though not really of the same kind as a black hole)

      As for "giant one with an event Horizon as big as a galaxy", you're unlikely to find enough mass in one place for something like that to form (nevermind the unlikene

      • by Fëanáro (130986)

        Quite likely pretty much all galaxies will be "a galaxy of black holes" at some point, simply because virtually everything else will decay in the meantime (and long before black holes themselves will decay). Some models even have the possibility that whole Universe will turn into a singularity (though not really of the same kind as a black hole)

        As for "giant one with an event Horizon as big as a galaxy", you're unlikely to find enough mass in one place for something like that to form (nevermind the unlikene

        • by sznupi (719324)

          That is to be expected relatively soon with two massive and rather close bodies orbiting each other, yes. But I guess it doesn't really translate that well to one heck of a n-body problem, where those bodies are also widely dispersed; I guess it would be already pointed out in "future of the Universe" lists, if it were the case.

          • by Fëanáro (130986)

            The process should be slower if the masses are farther apart, but I do not know anything that could prevent it. Having more masses should speed the process up.

            The smaller black holes might evaporate before they actually collide, but cosmic background radiation probably more than makes up for any loss due to hawking radiation. Of course, with the expansion of the universe, the background temperature lowers, so they might evaporate after all.

            Still, in the end two gravitational bound black holes should either

    • by adavies42 (746183)
      isn't the universe essentially a black hole by definition?
  • Oh yeah! Survival of the fittest, bitches!
  • by vagabond_gr (762469) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:37PM (#32245090)

    ... well, you know what

  • who's first reaction was to wonder what it might be like to live there, in the cannibal galaxy's nucleus?

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, but you are the first one here to misspell "whose". Well done.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by palegray.net (1195047)
      That sounds like a pretty bright idea!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by negRo_slim (636783)

      who's first reaction was to wonder what it might be like to live there, in the cannibal galaxy's nucleus?

      I thought the very same thing when I was watching Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking, I think the episode was entitled A Brief History Of Everything and at one point they play a computer simulation of galaxies merging and eventually they throw a lot of galaxies together before that piece ends.

      Might be worth looking up as it was incredibly beautiful.

      • by boxwood (1742976)

        well those simulatoins take place over millions of years. and although it looks like a galaxy eating another would be catastrophic fo any people living there, it really wouldn't. Most of space is... empty space. We focus on the stars and planets because they interesting, but there is a lot more space than stars and planets.

        So there may be a few collisions of stars and planets when a galaxy eats another galaxy, but it wouldn't happen as often as you think. And since the process of a galaxy eating another gal

  • Eating ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:38PM (#32245104) Homepage Journal
    you actually mean 'merging' with them. galaxies do not consume stellar material to burn. stellar material just merges.
    • you actually mean 'merging' with them. galaxies do not consume stellar material to burn. stellar material just merges.

      ...Unless the core black hole starts sucking down the new mass from the merger. Then it sounds like eating to me.

      • by unity100 (970058)
        if it was as such, galaxy wouldnt grow in size.
        • if it was as such, galaxy wouldnt grow in size.

          Yes it would, unless the consumption was 100%. And regardless, the galaxy would grow in mass. The article said this was the most massive galaxy.

    • Re:Eating ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSPAm.yahoo.com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:53PM (#32245356) Journal

      you actually mean 'merging' with them. galaxies do not consume stellar material to burn. stellar material just merges.

      I don't consume Cheetos and Mountain Dew, I merge with them. I don't burn most of them, they simply merge into a nearly circular ring around my midsection.

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        you actually mean 'merging' with them. galaxies do not consume stellar material to burn. stellar material just merges.

        I don't consume Cheetos and Mountain Dew, I merge with them. I don't burn most of them, they simply merge into a nearly circular ring around my midsection.

        You know you're in *real* trouble when you genuinely can't lose weight because you got so fat in the first place that your gravitational field has become self-sustaining.

        • by spun (1352)

          you actually mean 'merging' with them. galaxies do not consume stellar material to burn. stellar material just merges.

          I don't consume Cheetos and Mountain Dew, I merge with them. I don't burn most of them, they simply merge into a nearly circular ring around my midsection.

          You know you're in *real* trouble when you genuinely can't lose weight because you got so fat in the first place that your gravitational field has become self-sustaining.

          But on the plus side, you get to have some very pretty moons.

      • Re:Eating ? (Score:5, Funny)

        by El_Oscuro (1022477) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:55PM (#32248398) Homepage
        You do realize that there is no actual food in Cheetos nor Mountain Dew, so your only option is to merge with them. If you actually tried to consume them, your small intestine would leap out and throttle your brain in an desperate attempt to save humanity.
    • by tyrione (134248)

      you actually mean 'merging' with them. galaxies do not consume stellar material to burn. stellar material just merges.

      The story submitter has watched too many movies.

    • Galaxies are mostly empty space, right? (Well, ok, there's a lot of dust and rarified gas between star systems, I guess, and maybe lots of small stuff?) Could two Galaxies 'pass through' each other, and then keep on going, instead of merging? I mean, they would appear to be merged for a long long time, even if they could pass through, simply because it would take billions of years for them to pass through each other, right?

      Or is gravity strong enough that if they begin to pass through each other, they will

      • by unity100 (970058)
        yes they can pass through each other. also, if their gravity centers merge, they would have probably merged too.
  • It is big.
  • by sznupi (719324) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:39PM (#32245112) Homepage

    ("worse"/"better" - is an act of eating galaxies ammoral? ;) )

    Our galaxy is a cannibal, too...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgo_Stellar_Stream [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monoceros_Ring [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nearest_galaxies [wikipedia.org]
    (and those links are just a starting point; BTW, BOINC project Milkyway@home models this)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just wait until the insurance companies hear about this.

  • by zill (1690130) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:44PM (#32245202)
    Your mom is so fat...
  • ... It's just BIG BONED!

  • That's no moon
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oh wait. This isn't a poll. Never mind.
  • How do they know? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by esrobinson (1028500)

    Astronomers are having difficulty pinning down the galaxy's exact mass, but it's clearly the biggest bruiser within 1.5 billion light years of home

    I mean, it's the largest galaxy they've seen at this point. But, if a galaxy of that size can go undiscovered for this long, how do they know there's not another one within 1.5 billion light years that's larger? Did they look at all of it, and just leave this little section for last?

    Or is the summary just fabricating things that aren't in the article?

  • by mindbrane (1548037) on Monday May 17, 2010 @06:26PM (#32245830) Journal
    Much like the initial debate over the existence of black holes there seems to be lots of wiggle room when it comes to declaring whether the Universe is in a runaway state, whether it's just expanding, or, whether it will collapse. This Standford Uni link [stanford.edu] gives a quick overview and suggests in ~15bn years it'll collapse to the size of a proton. The Yale Astrophysics Course [yale.edu], IIRC, is strongly steeped in black hole theory and so speaks to the same issues.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    omg! they found azathoth!!!!

    Outside the ordered universe [is] that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azathoth

  • Two cannibals are eating a clown. One cannibal turns to the other and asks "Does this taste funny to you?"

  • ...ago

    It should be noted that this is not it's current size or state but its size and state about 1.5 billion years ago.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pclminion (145572)

      True, but technically uninteresting. If you are standing 100 meters away from me, then technically I never actually see "you," I see "you, 333 nanoseconds ago."

      In order for there to be a past, there has to be a "then" and a "now," and these are relative to your frame of reference. Yes, it's 1.5 billion years in the "past," but it's unimportant because there's no possibility of ever "catching up" to it. What we see right now, for all useful purposes, could be said to be happening "now."

      Ah geez, let's just go

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dotancohen (1015143)

      Wrong.

      In our light cone this is how the galaxy appears now. There is no concept of "now" outside our light cone, as much as intuitive Newtonian physics would like that to be true.

      • This doesn't make any sense to me. Clearly the galaxy emitted that light, there's a very high probability that it still exists in some shape or form, and given enough computing muscle we could probably model what it would look like outside of our light cone, in its current stage of matter/energy metamorphosis. The information might not be of any use to us, but it does exist.
        • I know that it doesn't make sense to our minds which are used to Newtonian physics. I'll try to explain a bit, but you might want to read "A Brief History of Time" or some other layman's introduction.

          You are right that the light emitted from the galaxy that we are seeing left that galaxy 1.5 billion years ago. You are right that time has passed for that galaxy since then (though it is not necessarily 1.5 billion years that have passed for it). However, where you are wrong is in your understanding of the ter

          • In other words, as we cannot possibly know what will happen (note that is _not_ past tense, though in Newtonian physics that would have been "has happened") to the galaxy after the events that we are seeing, those events are in the future for us.

            I think I get this, in that we can't access or otherwise change the galaxy we are observing, or have any influence on it, so it may as well not exist.

            However wouldn't the state of its current existence outside of our lightcone be important if we were to say, mount a hypothetical expedition to a particular part of it at 99.99999% c, and hence would have to model where it is at the moment and where it will be when the expedition reaches it? So while not directly important it might be of indirect importance

            • However wouldn't the state of its current existence outside of our lightcone be important if we were to say, mount a hypothetical expedition to a particular part of it at 99.99999% c, and hence would have to model where it is at the moment and where it will be when the expedition reaches it? So while not directly important it might be of indirect importance and thus impinge on our reality?

              That's the other side of the lightcone, the events that _we_ can influence. See this picture:
              http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/16/World_line.svg [wikimedia.org]

              What can influence us is the lower cone, what we can influence is the upper cone.

  • Obligatory. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @06:54PM (#32246170) Homepage

    it's clearly the biggest bruiser within 1.5 billion light years of home

    Or it would be if it weren't for your mother.

  • Old news (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frequency Domain (601421) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:19PM (#32246516)
    This happened, like what, a billion and a half years ago?
    • by Samah (729132)

      This happened, like what, a billion and a half years ago?

      So, a fairly recent news article in Slashdot time?

    • by drkim (1559875)

      This happened, like what, a billion and a half years ago?

      ...and it's just now getting posted on /.

  • eating the galaxies around it????????????????

    Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!

  • Anyone remember that the aliens in Contact were gathering together large masses to fold local space as a way of staving off the increasing expansion of the universe? Sort of creating a future local pocket of resources for when everything else gets too far away? "It's good work."

    Or am I misremembering again?

  • The news about this galaxy is interesting. Really, it is.

    But isn't "cannibal galaxy the biggest" a perfect example of a tautology? Basic gravity and a few billion years make this obvious.

  • All this leads *ME* to ask, if the current storyline of "Dr. Who" wouldn't actually become a reality? I wonder about stories, sometimes, that they actually might have happened at some point in the multi-verse...What?! You don't think this story sounds ridiculous? It may be true, but still sounds a bit fantastical! Leave me alone, I have a right to my thoughts. XP

An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. -- James Michener, "Space"

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