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RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of the relative sizes of some galaxies. The animation begins with a view of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a dwarf galaxy near our Milky Way. The SMC has a diameter of around 7000 light years. Next comes our home galaxy, the Milky Way itself. This is a flat spiral disc some 120,000 light years in diameter. This is just over half the size of our larger neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), which dominates our Local Group with a diameter of some 200,000 light years. M31 is dwarfed by the enormous lenticular galaxy NGC 262, which is more than ten times larger than Andromeda, and has traces of a spiral structure, which is very unusual for a galaxy this size. Even that is small compared to the supergiant elliptical galaxy IC 1101, which may be as large as six million light years across, making it one of the largest galaxies known.
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