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Monster Galaxy Lacks a Bright Core

The giant elliptical galaxy in the center of this image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, is the most massive and brightest member of the galaxy cluster Abell 2261. Spanning a little more than one million light-years, the galaxy is about 10 times the diameter of our Milky Way galaxy. The bloated galaxy is a member of an unusual class of galaxies with a diffuse core filled with a fog of starlight. Normally, astronomers would expect to see a concentrated peak of light around a central black hole.



The Hubble observations revealed that the galaxy's puffy core, measuring about 10,000 light-years, is the largest yet seen. The observations present a mystery, and studies of this galaxy may provide insight into how black hole behavior may shape the cores of galaxies.


Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Postman (STScI), T. Lauer (NOAO), and the CLASH team

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