Have astronomers really discovered a rectangular galaxy?

We find out if this unusual shape of galaxy has ever been discovered

comments
It's thought that LEDA 074886's rectangular shape was made by galactic collisions. Image Credit: NASA

It’s thought that LEDA 074886’s rectangular shape was made by galactic collisions. Image Credit: NASA

Asked by Sam Harwood

Yes, in 2012 astronomers discovered the very unusual rectangular dwarf galaxy LEDA 074886, which rests 70 million light years away and was imaged by the ground-based Japanese Subaru Telescope. It’s quite an exciting find since galaxies in general don’t usually take on a shape like this. At first, astronomers thought that its weird structure could be explained by gravitational lensing, a phenomenon in space where matter bends light, making objects appear to be magnified. However, it’s now suspected that the dwarf galaxy was made by the collision between other galaxies in its local group.

Combined with its odd shape, LEDA 074886’s internal stellar disc is aligned in such a way that it appears edge-on to us here on Earth – that means we’re unable to check for sure if it has a spiral structure or not.

Got a question for us? Send it into questions@spaceanswers.com and you could see it featured in All About Space – available every month for just £3.99. Alternatively you can subscribe here for a fraction of the price!

Tags: , , , , ,