50 Amazing Facts About Elliptical Galaxies

Facts About Elliptical Galaxies: An elliptical galaxy is an ellipsoid-shaped galaxy, each part of which is emitting approximately equal brightness. Their size can range from a pure sphere to a very flattened egg and can contain from tens of millions to a trillion stars. Along with lenticular and spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies are the three main galaxies of the Hubble sequence. Elliptical galaxies contain older stars and their interstellar medium is less dense. Newborn stars are rarely found in these. About 10-15% of the galaxies in the universe around us belong to this category, but their percentage in the entire universe is thought to be less than this.

50 Amazing Facts About Elliptical Galaxies

Amazing Facts About Elliptical Galaxies

  • Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is a spiral galaxy.
  • A small galaxy is one that contains less than a billion stars.
  • Irregular galaxies are those that do not fit in any other type.
  • The idea of a galaxy was first realized by Thomas Wright in 1917.
  • The closest galaxy to the Milky Way is about 80,000 light-years away.
  • Sometimes galaxies merge with other galaxies to form a galactic merger.
  • An example of an E2 elliptical galaxy is Messier 49, also known as NGC 4472.
  • An example of an E5 elliptical galaxy is Messier 59, also known as NGC 4621.
  • An example of an E1 elliptical galaxy is Messier 105, also known as NGC 3379.
  • One of the brightest galaxies in our sky, Centaurus A, is an elliptical galaxy.
  • The largest galaxies in the universe may be up to two million light-years long.
  • The shape of an elliptical galaxy is ellipsoidal without any noticeable features.
  • They are generally made up of a lot of older stars that have a relatively low mass.
  • The elliptical galaxy Maffei 1 is the closest elliptical galaxy to the planet Earth.
  • An elliptical galaxy is a type of galaxy on the Hubble sequence classification scheme.
  • From the southern hemisphere of Earth, two other galaxies can be seen with the naked eye.
  • It’s estimated that 60% of all galaxies in the observable universe are elliptical galaxies.
  • The origin of galaxies is debatable but most astronomers believe they were caused by the big bang.

Interesting Facts About Elliptical Galaxies

  • Although it was once thought to be true, elliptical galaxies actually don’t evolve into spiral galaxies.
  • Elliptical galaxies contain some of the oldest stars because they do not have the ability to form new stars.
  • A lot of irregular galaxies probably began as an elliptical or spiral galaxy that crashed into another galaxy.
  • There is very little dust in an elliptical galaxy, which is one of the reasons why there are few younger stars.
  • Elliptical galaxies often appear to have one bright star in the middle but it is actually a collection of stars.
  • There are eight main types of elliptical galaxies, and they are classified between E0, E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, E6 and E7.
  • Whereas spiral galaxies are often found on their own, elliptical galaxies are primarily found in clusters amongst other stars.
  • Though we aren’t entirely sure, it’s said that elliptical galaxies may be the result of a collision between two spiral galaxies.
  • The elliptical galaxy IC 1101 is the largest galaxy in the observable universe, with an estimated diameter of 2,000 kilolight-years.
  • Elliptical galaxies can have as little as ten million stars in them, or as much as one hundred trillion stars in them – they vary greatly!
  • As well as being the largest, elliptical galaxies can also be the smallest galaxies in our universe too. These are called “dwarf elliptical”.
  • Galaxies pass through each other all the time but because the stars are so spread out, the chances of them actually touching is very unlikely.
  • Elliptical galaxies are so bright that if Earth were located inside of one, there would always be day light everywhere no matter the time of day.
  • An elliptical galaxy has very low, if any active star formation, which is due to their lack of dust and gas that would support the formation of a star.

Scientific Facts About Elliptical Galaxies

  • There are four galaxies that can be seen from Earth with the naked eye: the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds.
  • All elliptical galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their center – the size of the black hole is directly related to the size of the galaxy itself.
  • An elliptical galaxy is one of four different classifications that we give to galaxies, along with a classic spiral galaxy, barred spiral galaxy and an irregular galaxy too.
  • Elliptical galaxies can be the biggest in our universe, which we refer to as a giant elliptical. They have over a trillion stars, and can have a diameter that is 10x our Milky Way.
  • The luminosity of elliptical galaxies can vary quite a bit. Some are as bright as 10 quadrillion times our sun (supergiant elliptical galaxies) or as dim as a 100 thousand times our sun (dwarf elliptical galaxies).
  • The best way to understand the eight main types of elliptical galaxies is simple, an E0 will have a near perfect circular shape, while a E7 will be very stretched out. Everything classified between E0 and E7 is a variant of both extremes.

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