NGC 1277

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NGC 1277
NGC 1277 viewed by Hubble.jpg
NGC 1277 as seen by Hubble
Observation data (J2000 epoch)
Right ascension 3h 19m 51.5s
Declination +41° 34′ 25″
Apparent magnitude (V) 14.7
Type Lenticular galaxy, peculiar galaxy
Number of stars ~25 billion
Other designations
PGC 012434, LGG 088
References: [1]
See also: Galaxy, List of galaxies

NGC 1277 is a lenticular galaxy in the constellation of Perseus. It is a member of the Perseus Cluster of galaxies and is located approximately 220 million light years from the Milky Way. It has a visual magnitude of 14.7. It was discovered on December 4, 1875 by Lawrence Parsons, 4th Earl of Rosse.

Ancient stars[edit]

NGC 1277 has been called a "relic of the early universe" because its stars formed during a roughly 100 million year interval 12 billion years ago, when the universe was only about 2 billion years old. After this burst of star formation, a thousand times the rate of star formation in our own Milky Way galaxy, this generation process shut off, leaving NGC 1277 populated with metal-rich stars about 7 billion years older than our Sun.[2][3]

Supermassive black hole[edit]

Two studies have been published concerning the possible presence of a supermassive black hole at the center of this galaxy.[4][5]

According to one group,[4] who made observations using the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at Texas's McDonald Observatory, the motions of the stars near the center of this galaxy imply the presence of a black hole with a mass of about 1.7×1010 M (17 billion solar masses), equivalent to 14% of the total stellar mass of the galaxy. This would make the black hole in NGC 1277 one of the largest known, in relation to the mass of its host galaxy.

A second study,[5] based on the same data and published the following year, reached a very different conclusion: the black hole is not particularly overmassive, estimated at between 2 and 5 billion solar masses with 5 billion being the most likely value. This represents less than a third of its previously estimated mass and indeed models with no black hole at all were found to provide reasonably good fits to the data, including the central region. Nevertheless, it still remains as one of the most massive black holes ever discovered, at 29.6 billion kilometers in diameter - almost five times the distance from the Sun to Pluto.


  1. ^ "NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database". Results for NGC 1277. Retrieved November 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ Christopher Crockett (3 January 2014). "Relic of early universe found nearby". Science News. 
  3. ^ "Discovery of a "Relic" Galaxy, Frozen in Time". National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. 30 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b van den Bosch, Remco C. E.; et al. (29 Nov 2012). "An over-massive black hole in the compact lenticular galaxy NGC 1277". Nature. 491 (7426): 729–731. arXiv:1211.6429Freely accessible. Bibcode:2012Natur.491..729V. doi:10.1038/nature11592. Retrieved 29 Nov 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Emsellem, Eric (Aug 2013). "Is the black hole in NGC 1277 really overmassive?". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 433 (3): 1862–1870. arXiv:1305.3630Freely accessible. Bibcode:2013MNRAS.433.1862E. doi:10.1093/mnras/stt840.