Astronomers studying galaxies have discovered something unusual
Astronomy news (November 29, 2013) – Astronomers have found galaxies of different shapes and sizes during the human journey to the beginning of space and time, but the rectangular-shaped galaxy astronomers recently located 68 million light-years away in Eridanus the River doesn’t fit any current theory of what a galaxy should look like. Leda 074886 is one of about 250 galaxies in the cluster of galaxies around the massive galaxy NGC 1407, which lies about 70 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Eridanus.
Astronomers wonder about this rectangular shape
Astronomers detected LEDA 074886 in a wide-field image taken with the Japanese Subaru Telescope. After analysis astronomers detected a stellar disk inside the rectangular-galaxy, aligned edge-on to our line of sight in the Milky Way. This disk is rotating at speeds up to 33 km/second, but at this point they’re not sure it has a spiral structure characteristic of a galaxy.
Astronomers classify galaxies according to their overall shape, using three general categories; elliptical, disk-like, and irregular. The unusual shape of the galaxy designated LEDA 074886 doesn’t fit into any of these three categories. The question astronomers are asking is how did this galaxy come to have this unusual shape?
Could this rectangular shaped galaxy be the result of a galactic collision?
Is the unusual shape of this galaxy due to a collision with another galaxy, perhaps between two spiral galaxies? Astronomers models indicate this scenario could possibly result in the stars of each galaxy flinging outward to form a rectangular shape. Astronomers also detected a disk of bluish, relatively young stars near the center of this galaxy, which they believe could indicate a recent collision with another small galaxy. This discovery should help astronomers model the formation and evolution of galaxies better and perhaps get a picture of the fated collision between the Milky Way and Andromeda 4 billion years from now.
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