Sept. 6, 2012
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope image shows two very different galaxies drifting through space in this image released on Sept. 6. The peculiar galaxy pair is called Arp 116, which is composed of a giant elliptical galaxy known as Messier 60 or M60, center, and a much smaller spiral galaxy, NGC 4647, upper right. M60 is the third-brightest galaxy in the Virgo cluster, a collection of more than 1,300 galaxies. M60 has a diameter of 120,000 light-years and a mass of about 1 trillion times that of the sun. A huge black hole of 4.5 billion solar masses lies at its center, one of the most massive black holes ever found. The faint bluish spiral galaxy NGC 4647 is about two-thirds of M60 in size and much lower in mass — roughly the size of our galaxy, the Milky Way. M60 lies roughly 54 million light-years away from Earth; NGC 4647 is about 63 million light-years away.
NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration via Reuters