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Rare Rectangular Galaxy Found

By David Reneke

News from the space and astronomy communities around the world.

David Reneke is an astronomy lecturer and teacher, a feature writer for major Australian newspapers and magazines, and a science correspondent for ABC and commercial radio. Subscribe to David’s free Astro-Space newsletter at www.davidreneke.com

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

An international team of astronomers from Australia, Germany, Switzerland and Finland has discovered a rare rectangular-shaped galaxy that has a striking resemblance to an emerald-cut diamond. Astronomers don’t have fancy names for most objects they find – they’ve simply labelled this one with the catalogue number LEDA 074886.

While using the Subaru Prime Focus Camera to look for globular clusters of stars swarming around NGC 1407 – a bright, giant galaxy in the constellation Eridanus 70 million light years from Earth – the researchers discovered an unusually shaped dwarf galaxy toward the edge of their image.

Prof Alister Graham of Swinburne University, the lead author of the paper describing the research, said: “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”. Its discovery allows astronomers to obtain useful information for modelling other galaxies.

Most galaxies in the universe around us exist in one of three forms: ellipsoidal, disc-like or irregular. Dwarf galaxies, probably the most common galaxies in the universe, are small and have low luminosities.

One of the reasons that LEDA 074886 was hard to find is its dwarf-like status . It has 50 times less stars than our own Milky Way galaxy, and its distance from Earth is equivalent to 700 Milky Way galaxies placed end to...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.