This is a table of galactic observational firsts in astronomy history.

First Galaxy Constellation Year Notes
First spiral galaxy Messier 51 Canes Venatici 1845 Lord William Parsons, Earl of Rosse discovered the first spiral nebula from observing M51 (recognition of the spiral shape without the recognition of the object as outside the Milky Way).[1]
Notion of galaxy Milky Way Galaxy & Messier 31 Sagittarius (centre) & Andromeda 1923 Recognition of the Milky Way and the Andromeda nebula as two separate galaxies by Edwin Hubble.
First Seyfert galaxy NGC 1068 (M77) Cetus 1943 (1908) The characteristics of Seyfert galaxies were first observed in M77 in 1908, however, Seyferts were defined as a class in 1943.[2]
First radio galaxy Cygnus A Cygnus 1951/2 Of several items, then called radio stars, Cygnus A was identified with a distant galaxy, being the first of many radio stars to become a radio galaxy.[3][4]
First quasar 3C273
3C273 was the first quasar with its redshift determined, and by some considered the first quasar. 3C48 was the first "radio-star" with an unreadable spectrum, and by others considered the first quasar.
First superluminal galactic jet 3C279 Virgo 1971 The jet is emitted by a quasar
First low-surface-brightness galaxy Malin 1 Coma Berenices 1986 Malin 1 was the first verified LSB galaxy. LSB galaxies had been first theorized in 1976.[5]
First superluminal jet from a Seyfert III Zw 2 Pisces[6] 2000 [7]


  1. SEDS, Lord Rosse's drawings of M51, his "Question Mark" "Spiral Nebula"
  2. SEDS, Seyfert Galaxies
  3. Burbidge, G. (1999). "Baade & Minkowski's Identification of Radio Sources". Astrophysical Journal 525: 569. Bibcode1999ApJ...525C.569B. 
  4. Baade, W.; Minkowski, R.. "Identification of the Radio Sources in Cassiopeia, Cygnus a, and Puppis a.". The Astrophysical Journal 119: 206. doi:10.1086/145812. Bibcode1954ApJ...119..206B. 
  5. Scientific American, "The Ghostliest Galaxies", GD Bothun, Vol. 276, No. 2, February 1997, pp.40-45, Template:Bibcode
  7. Brunthaler, A. (2000). "III Zw 2, the first superluminal jet in a Seyfert galaxy". Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters 357: 45. Bibcode2000A&A...357L..45B.