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UGC 12591: The Fastest Rotating Galaxy Known
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UGC 12591: The Fastest Rotating Galaxy Known
Credit & Copyright: NASA, ESA, Hubble
Explanation: Why does this galaxy spin so fast? To start, even identifying which type of galaxy UGC 12591 is difficult -- it has dark dust lanes like a spiral galaxy but a large diffuse bulge of stars like a lenticular. Surprisingly observations show that UGC 12591 spins at about 480 km/sec, almost twice as fast as our Milky Way, and the fastest rotation rate yet measured. The mass needed to hold together a galaxy spinning this fast is several times the mass of our Milky Way Galaxy. Progenitor scenarios for UGC 12591 include slow growth by accreting ambient matter, or rapid growth through a recent galaxy collision or collisions -- future observations may tell. The light we see today from UGC 12591 left about 400 million light years ago, when trees were first developing on Earth.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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& Michigan Tech. U.

Based on Astronomy Picture Of the Day

Publications with keywords: spiral galaxy
Publications with words: spiral galaxy
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