It is mind-boggling to try to think how big some galaxies are. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years from end to end which is already impressive. And yet, there are galaxies out there that are more than 17 times larger.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the largest galaxies in the universe in order starting from the biggest galaxy we know about, ESO 383-76 which has a diameter of 1.7 million light-years.

It is important to note that this ranking is constantly changing as we keep finding and measuring more and more galaxies. Less than a decade ago, the largest galaxy we knew about was the Condor Galaxy, also known as NGC 6872 and shown in the photo above which has an approximate diameter of 717,000 light-years. Less than half of the estimated width of ESO 383-76.

It is important to note that the numbers shown in the table below are estimates. It is very hard to measure objects at such large distances as galaxies. This is done using a variety of methods that involve measuring the amount of light received from the stars in the galaxy and has a margin of error.

Here’s what each of the columns in the table below means.

Galaxy Name: Proper name or scientific designation of the galaxy. Most newly discovered galaxies don’t receive a proper name these days, instead, they just receive a catalog number or designation. For a list of galaxies with proper names check this post.

Major axis diameter: Length of the largest axis of the galaxy. Remember that most galaxies are somewhat elliptical in shape so they’ll have an axis that is larger than the other. This is generally simply referred to as the galaxy’s diameter. Given in light-years.

Minor axis diameter: Length of the shortest axis of the galaxy. Remember that most galaxies are somewhat elliptical in shape so they’ll have an axis that is larger than the other. Given in light-years.

Estimation method: Method used to measure the galaxy.

Galaxy nameMajor axis diameter (ly)Minor axis diameter (ly)Estimation Method
ESO 383-76 (ESO 383-G 076)176400088210090% total B-light
ESO 248-6 (ESO 248-G 006)173100083070090% total B-light
ESO 409-25 (ESO 409-G 025)145400090170090% total B-light
Abell 3039 BCG B12900004386002MASS K-band total mag
2MASX J14102504+6337103113400011340002MASS K-band total mag
ESO 151-41 (ESO 151-G 041)113200045300090% total B-light
MCG-04-02-0131115000111500027.0 B-mag arcsec−2
Abell 1576 BCG10770005172002MASS K-band total mag
ESO 306-17 (ESO 306-G 017)107000070610090% total B-light
ESO 350-15 (ESO 350-G 015)104300052160090% total B-light
Abell 2397 BCG10140005883002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 1146 BCG10090007671002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 747 BCG9953004379002MASS K-band total mag
LEDA 12730029754004194002MASS K-band total mag
LEDA 18380349586005177002MASS K-band total mag
ESO 473-5 (ESO 473-G 005)94460051770090% total B-light
Abell 1942 BCG9392006387002MASS K-band total mag
LEDA 16543429164006231002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 384 BCG9139002742002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 697 BCG8852006374002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 3300 BCG8788003867002MASS K-band total mag
OGC 6668763004557002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 1437B BCG8683005384002MASS K-band total mag
ESO 443-11 (ESO 443-G 011)86650040730027.0 B-mag arcsec−2
4C +41.268623007244002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 963 BCG8412006057002MASS K-band total mag
ESO 541-13 (ESO 541-G 013)84070065570090% total B-light
MACS J0024.5+3312 BCG8306005482002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 1602 BCG8220005754002MASS K-band total mag
NGC 62380390061100027.0 B-mag arcsec−2
PGC 661680380040190027.0 B-mag arcsec−2
Abell 1413 BCG80140025640025.0 r-mag arcsec−2
ESO 291-9 (ESO 291-G 009)79510046120090% total B-light
Abell 1504 BCG7902004583002MASS K-band total mag
LEDA 18163877825003365002MASS K-band total mag
NVSS J080730+3400427809003592002MASS K-band total mag
LEDA 20663327797004678002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 812 BCG7729005410002MASS K-band total mag
7C 1043+59537710004009002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 1785B BCG7698005081002MASS K-band total mag
LEDA 24631937695007695002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 781 b76650033730025.0 r-mag arcsec−2
Abell 655 BCG7600005776002MASS K-band total mag
LEDA 14609887555004382002MASS K-band total mag
NGC 403875200054140027.0 B-mag arcsec−2
Abell 908 BCG7502005551002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 2061 b7477005832002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 2397 G17457004325002MASS K-band total mag
ESO 198-1 (ESO 198-G 001)74160056360027.0 B-mag arcsec−2
3C 2957380007380002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 267 BCG73670030200025.0 r-mag arcsec−2
Abell 1758N BCG7315003219002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 360 BCG7277003639002MASS K-band total mag
ESO 251-21 (ESO 251-G 021)72770045840090% total B-light
LEDA 21884337216007216002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 1807 BCG7202004753002MASS K-band total mag
NGC 687271700014340025.5 r-mag arcsec−2
Abell S1077 BCG7169003728002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 2125 BCG7152005152002MASS K-band total mag
B3 1715+4257152004720002MASS K-band total mag
Abell 2219 BCG7134003853002MASS K-band total mag
ESO 552-20 (ESO 552-G 020)71000041180090% total B-light
ESO 11-4 (ESO 011-G 004)70740048810090% total B-light
IC 163370570054340027.0 B-mag arcsec−2
LEDA 22626577040005210002MASS K-band total mag
LEDA 18690527031004640002MASS K-band total mag
NGC 175970280063250027.0 B-mag arcsec−2
LEDA 18698147021004633002MASS K-band total mag
Abell S235 BCG7009002523002MASS K-band total mag

Elena is a Canadian journalist and researcher. She has been looking at the sky for years and hopes to introduce more people to the wonderful hobby that is astronomy.