The spiral galaxies pictured below, called super spirals, were discovered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. After astronomers searched through some of the distant data, they were amazed to find that some of the galaxies they were staring at were not just nearby spiral galaxies of a usual size, but enormous ones farther away. Patrick Ogle of the California Institute of Technology, the lead author of the newly issued research paper in Astrophysical Journal, labelled the discovery “as if we have just revealed a new land animal stomping around that is the size of an elephant but had shockingly gone unobserved by zoologists.”
Even though they’re pretty much similar in their shape and their behavior, they are dwarf spiral galaxies as we know them. They have nearly over 10 times the mass of the Milky Way, and they are 8-14 times brighter, and have over 30 times more star-formation ability. It’s that unbelievable star-formation ability that also has astronomers questioning everything they know about spiral galaxies.
According to the current theories, the size of super spirals shouldn’t allow them to keep themselves together at all. As spiral galaxies develop, they pull in more and more nearby gases to create new stars. As they keep pulling in more gases, they finally hit a point where they have too much surrounding gas and, instead of giving birth to new stars, it extinguishes them. Yet, strangely, these super spirals appear to be almost limitless in both how vast they can get and how many stars they can create.