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You are in: Home ยป Science & Technology

A new study provides compelling evidence that it is the size of the galaxy that matters, not its distance.

By combining data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) and NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, a group of scientists led by Professor Chris Lintott from the Department of Physics at the University of Newcastle was able to determine that larger galaxies are more massive and therefore more active.

The study, which was published in Astrophysics on October 31st, confirms that the universe is not a homogeneous mass of stars and gas. The universe appears to be rather more crowded than first estimated in the 1970s, when many thought that the galaxy cluster, known as the Local Group, contained the largest amount of galaxies. As a result, astronomers thought that the size of the universe is determined by the mass of those galaxies at the time.

The theory of evolution, which holds that galaxies have a finite number of “masses” that can be combined to make new galaxies, means that stars in larger galaxies grow slower. These galaxies are known as supergiants and, over time, grow to more than four billion solar masses (4.5 billion times the mass of our Sun). When the galaxies form, they start out as stars and, like a sun,