NGC 262 as seen from the CTIO Observatory in Chile taken using three filtered multiwavelength images. The galaxy is the bright object to the left of center.
|Observation data (J2000 epoch)|
|Right ascension||00h 48m 47.14154s|
|Declination||+31° 57′ 25.08″|
|Apparent dimensions (V)||1,1' × 1,1'|
|Apparent magnitude (V)||13.1|
|2MASX J00484711+3157249, UGC 499, Markarian 348 |
|See also: Galaxy, List of galaxies|
NGC 262 (also known as Markarian 348) is a huge spiral galaxy in the cluster LGG 14. It is a Seyfert 2 spiral galaxy located 300 million light years away in the constellation Andromeda. It was discovered in September 17, 1885 by Lewis A. Swift.
This galaxy has an apparent diameter of approximately 1.3 million light years, which makes it currently the largest known spiral galaxy. It holds approximately more than 15 trillion stars. Being more than 13 times the size of the Milky Way, if it took the place of our galaxy, it would swallow up almost all of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies, including the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. NGC 262 was tidally disturbed by gravitational forces of smaller galaxies, which has caused its tremendous size.
NGC 262 is very unusual, since it is 10 times larger than a regular spiral galaxy of its type. According to Morris and Wannier, NGC 262 is surrounded by a huge cloud of neutral hydrogen  that is probably caused by the tidal stripping of smaller galaxies. The cloud has an apparent mass of approximately 50 billion solar masses  at a distance of 88 kiloparsecs (287,000 light years)  from the nucleus of NGC 262 and extending up to 300 kiloparsecs (1 million light years) away. The cloud is spiral shaped with at least one and possibly another arm extending throughout the galaxy.
In comparison to other galaxies
NGC 262 is more than twice the size of NGC 6872, a disturbed spiral galaxy in the constellation Pavo that was mistakenly claimed in 2013 as the largest spiral galaxy. Another source says that the largest spiral galaxy is Malin 1, however, it is only half of the size of NGC 262. It was also one of the largest galaxies identified so far in the universe, but was exceeded by the supergiant elliptical galaxy IC 1101.