ALL GROWN UP Giant elliptical galaxies like NGC 1132 (shown), which contains trillions of suns and is more than twice as wide as the Milky Way, could have grown from a dense cluster of stars such as one astronomers have identified.
Even the mightiest galaxies start life as a small seed. Now researchers think they’ve identified a sprouting seed of a giant elliptical galaxy, churning out new stars just 3 billion years after the Big Bang. The discovery could help astronomers understand how the most massive galaxies in the universe are built.
Giant elliptical galaxies are big and boring. These nearly featureless behemoths can hold trillions of ancient stars. Because these silent titans have been largely dormant for billions of years astronomers had thought that elliptical galaxies were relics from an earlier time.