An international team of astronomers led by a Michigan State University faculty member have discovered a new galaxy they say may be the densest galaxy known in the local universe.
Jay Strader, MSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy, says as many as 10 thousand of our suns is crammed into a space the size of the distance between our sun and the next closest star, Alpha Centauri.
The research is detailed in the recent edition of the publication Astrophysical Journal Letters. The "ultra-compact dwarf galaxy" was found in what is known as the Virgo cluster, a collection of galaxies about 54 million light years away from our own Milky Way Galaxy.
Strader says what makes this galaxy, dubbed M60-UCD1, so remarkable is that about half of its mass is found within a radius of only about 80 light years.
This would make the density of stars about 15,000 times greater than found in Earth’s neighborhood in the Milky Way.