Astronomers Discover Rectangular Shaped Galaxy

Posted on March 21, 2012

Rectangular Galaxy Swinburne University of Technology


Astronomers have discovered a rare rectangular shaped galaxy that resembles an emerald cut diamond. Astronomers from Australia, Germany, Switzerland and Finland discovered the rectangular shaped galaxy within a group of 250 galaxies some 70 million light years away. The galaxy was detected in a wide field-of-view image taken with the Japanese Subaru Telescope by Swinburne astrophysicist Dr Lee Spitler.

Associate Professor Alister Graham from Swinburne University of Technology says the galaxy's rectangular shape is very unusual.

Graham says, "In the Universe around us, most galaxies exist in one of three forms: spheroidal, disc-like, or lumpy and irregular in appearance. It's one of those things that just makes you smile because it shouldn't exist, or rather you don't expect it to exist. It's a little like the precarious Leaning Tower of Pisa or the discovery of some exotic new species which at first glance appears to defy the laws of nature."

Swinburne's Professor Duncan Forbes, co author of the research, says, "One possibility is that the galaxy may have formed out of the collision of two spiral galaxies. While the pre-existing stars from the initial galaxies were strewn to large orbits creating the emerald cut shape, the gas sank to the mid plane where it condensed to form new stars and the disc that we have observed."

Rectangular Galaxy Swinburne University of Technology Second Look


The research was published here in the The Astrophysical Journal.

Photos: Swinburne University of Technology