Hubble finds lonely 'void galaxy' floating in cosmic nothingness

No sign yet of tragic, philosophical infant Prince chatting with odd mates

The void galaxy MCG+01-02-015
'Void Galaxy' MCG+01-02-015. Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA and N. Gorin (STScI)

“In a galaxy far, far away” you don't see much, it seems.

The image at the top (here for readers on mobile devices) is one of the latest shots retrieved from Hubble, and the galaxy that's front-and-centre is one of the loneliest ever snapped.

It even has to suffer a dull, prosaic name: MCG+01-02-015.

In spite of its apparent proximity to all the other galaxies in the image (and the stars, identifiable by their diffraction spikes), MCG+01-02-015 is a "void galaxy" that lives apart from others.

As the Hubble organisation explains here, MCG+01-02-015 is so far away from the action that if Earth were inside looking out, we would not have discovered that the universe held other galaxies until the 1960s.

By comparison, our corner of universe is so crowded with galaxies, some are identifiable to the naked eye, the existence of galaxies other than the Milky Way was speculated in the 1700s (by Thomas Wright), and before the turn of the 19th century more than 100 had been catalogued.

It was, of course, Edwin Hubble whose observations first proved these objects were galaxies in their own right, something he could not have done if we were in MCG+01-02-015.

“The vast majority of galaxies are strung out along galaxy filaments — thread-like formations that make up the large-scale structure of the Universe — drawn together by the influence of gravity into sinuous threads weaving through space,” the Hubble post notes.

Not MCG+01-02-015, however, is in such an empty void, devoid of galactic filaments, that the surrounding space contains on average a single atom per cubic metre. ®




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