Largest Known Galaxy IC 1101 – Size, Distance, Facts

IC 1101 Galaxy

IC 1101 is the largest known galaxy in the universe with a size of around 6 million light-years. It is an elliptical type galaxy, existed in the constellation of Virgo. IC 1101 Galaxy was discovered by a British astronomer “Frederick William Herschel” in June 1790. 

This galaxy located in the center of the Abell 2029 galaxy cluster. Abell 2029 is also known as A2029 and existed in the constellation Virgo. IC 1101 is the brightest galaxy in this cluster. So another name of IC 1101 is “A2029-BCG”, where BCG stands for Brightest Cluster Galaxy. 

Largest Galaxy in the Universe – IC 1101 Size

There are billions of galaxies in our universe. Most of them are thousands of light-years in size. But only a few galaxies have the size of millions of light-years, such as IC 1101. Usually, a galaxy becomes large after merging with another galaxy near to it. Just for a fact, our galaxy Milky Way would merge with Andromeda in about 4 billion years. 

The largest galaxy in the universe is IC 1101. And better would be to say, it is the largest KNOWN galaxy in the observable universe so far. 

The radius of the halo of this galaxy extends up to 600 kpc (2 million ly), which is approximately 4 million in diameter. So according to scientists, the size of the IC 1101 galaxy would be approximately 6 million light-years, including its core and outer part from the halo. Though there are some debates about the exact size of this. 

Scientists believe it achieved this size because many galaxies have merged with it and the result made IC 1101 the biggest galaxy.

IC 1101 Stars

The total number of stars in the IC 1101 galaxy is around 100 trillion. That is quite much in number compared to our galaxy. Because our galaxy milky way contains approximately 100-400 billion stars only. 

The IC 1101 is one of the brightest and luminous galaxies in the universe, it is because of the large number of stars in it. These are the most metal-rich type stars. According to estimation by scientists, some stars are too older nearly at the universe age. These stars give this galaxy appear like golden yellow color. 

Black Hole in IC 1101

According to a research paper published in 2017, the core of this galaxy is approximately 4200 parsecs which are almost 14000 light-years in size. And this is one of the largest core found in any galaxy so far. The galaxy IC 1101 contains some of the bright radio sources at its center. And it can be associated with one of the largest black hole existed. According to an estimation by scientists, the IC 1101 black hole would contain almost 50-100 billion solar masses. 

IC 1101 Galaxy Facts

  • It exists at a center of a galaxy cluster Abell 2029, and Abell 2029 exists in the constellation of Virgo. 
  • It was discovered by Frederick William Herschel (a British astronomer) in 1790. 
  • This is the largest known galaxy discovered so far.
  • IC 1101 is a supergiant elliptical (E) to lenticular (S0) type galaxy. 
  • It has the biggest core discovered in any galaxy with a size of around 14000 light-years. 
  • The core of IC 1101 has one of the largest Black Holes.
  • It has almost 1000 times more stars than our galaxy Milky Way has.
  • The galaxy name IC 1101 is taken from the fact that it is the 1101st item in the Index Catalogue (IC) of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars. Though it is not a nebula but a distant galaxy in our universe.
  • Below is the image of IC 1101, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in June 1995. 

image of IC 1101 galaxy

IC 1101 vs Milky Way

Comparing the size between IC 1101 and Milky Way is like a building in a large town. The approximate diameter of the IC 1101 is around 6 million light-years. Whereas the Milky Way is approximately 150,000 light-years. 

Almost 40 Milky Way size galaxy can fit inside the largest galaxy IC 1101. If it were in the place of the Milky Way, it would swallow up most of the local group galaxies including the Andromeda Galaxy, Triangulum Galaxy, Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), and many more.”

Just for information, the Local Group is a group of galaxies that includes our Milky Way and many more (almost 50) galaxies. And its approximate diameter is around 9.8 million light-years. So with the comparison of this, you can imagine how big IC 1101 would be. 

IC 1101 distance from the Earth

It would almost impossible to look at this galaxy with the naked eye from the earth, it must be needed some advanced telescope to look at it. Because it is a very distant galaxy, located in the constellation of Virgo. So if you have a question like, “how far is IC 1101 from the Earth”, then read the next line to plan your traveling! The distance of the IC 1101 galaxy from the earth is approximately 1.04 billion light-years. 

If you travel from the earth with the speed of light, then the time you need to approach this galaxy is approximate 1,040,000,000 years.


So, here you read about the largest known galaxy IC 1101 in the Universe. Currently, this one is the biggest but who has seen the future or in other words “who has seen the whole Universe”? Maybe there are other bigger galaxies than this. Well, for now, IC 1101 is the biggest galaxy and you know a lot now. Hope you have got some important knowledge about it.

⇒ You must be willing to know more like this, then read the below articles: