By no means all galaxies are spiral in shape. This
illustration - of NGC 5253 in Centaurus - shows a far more common
galactic form, the Elliptical Galaxy.
Galaxies like this one make up about 80% of those known.
Vast accumulations of stellar material, typically containing several million individual
stars. They range in appearance from the irregular, through the
elliptical, to delicate and elaborate spirals.
Galaxies come in all shapes and sizes. The largest Local galaxy is
M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, which is about 200,000
light years across, a diameter twice that of our own
Milky Way Galaxy. Far, far more massive than any member of the Local Cluster, though, is M87, a
giant Elliptical Galaxy at the heart of the Virgo Cluster.
A typical spiral galaxy, adrift in a still and starless void. A galaxy like this, fairly similar
to our own Milky Way Galaxy, can easily be several hundred thousand light years across,
and carry thousands of millions of stars.
eSky © copyright Mark Fisher 1999-2013