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Many clusters of galaxies have giant elliptical galaxies at their centers. Smaller elliptical galaxies, called dwarf elliptical galaxies, are much more common than giant ones. Most of the two dozen galaxies in the Milky Way’s Local Group of galaxies are dwarf elliptical galaxies.

Astronomers classify elliptical galaxies by how oval they look, ranging from E0 for very round to E3 for intermediately oval to E7 for extremely elongated. The galaxy class E7 is also called S0, which is also known as a lenticular galaxy, a shape with an elongated disk but no spiral arms. Because astronomers can see other galaxies only from the perspective of Earth, the shape astronomers see is not necessarily the exact shape of a galaxy. For instance, they may be viewing it from an end, and not from above or below.


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