The Sciences

The Tiniest Galaxy in the Universe

Meet Segue 2, the galaxy that is millions of times smaller than the Milky Way.

By Liz KruesiJan 28, 2014 2:05 PM
tiniest-galaxy.jpg
Segue 2, the smallest known galaxy, is just one of many similar diminutive galaxies astronomers expect to find around the Milky Way, as shown in this colorful simulation. | Garrison-Kimmel, Bullock/University of California, Irvine.

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Astronomers can measure a galaxy’s mass by how stars move within it: The faster they move, the more massive it is. 

With this knowledge, a University of California, Irvine, team found that Segue 2, discovered in 2009, weighs at most 150,000 times more than our sun — the puniest galaxy known. (Our normal-size Milky Way is 10 million times more massive.) 

Segue 2 is probably just one of many such astronomical miniatures orbiting the Milky Way, says UCI astronomer Evan Kirby: “Simulations predict that there should be tens of thousands of these things.”

[This article originally appeared in print as "The Tiniest Galaxy in the Universe."]

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