Artists view of M60-UCD1 Black Hole
NASA, ESA, STScI-RCC14-41a
By Maya Rhodan
September 18, 2014

NASA said Wednesday that astronomers have found one of the smallest known galaxies ever using the Hubble Space Telescope–but the mini-discovery came with a surprising twist. The tiny galaxy has a massive black hole at its center, nearly five times the size of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

Inside the galaxy, at least 1 million stars are visible to the naked eye, according to a NASA press release. To put that in perspective, consider that from Earth we can only see about 4,000 stars in the night sky. The galaxy reportedly has a diameter 1/500th of the size of ours, with 140 million stars that fit inside. Astronomers think the galaxy is proof that “dwarf galaxies” are parts of larger galaxies that were broken up by collisions with other galaxies.

“We don’t know of any other way you could make a black hole so big in an object this small,” University of Utah astronomer Anil Seth said in the NASA statement. Seth is the lead author of an international study on the dwarf galaxy published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

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