Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Astronomers Discover Rectangular Galaxy

A dwarf galaxy in the constellation of Eridanus resembles an ‘emerald cut diamond’, say discoverers

Galaxies essentially have three different shapes. The vast majority are flattened discs, often with spiral arms; some are ellipsoids, like rugby balls; and a few are completely irregular with no symmetry.  

So the discovery of a galaxy with an entirely different shape is bound to generate a flutter of interest.

Today, Alister Graham at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia and a few mates announce the discovery of a dwarf galaxy designated LEDA 074886 that is distinctly rectangular.  “We affectionately call [it] the “emerald cut galaxy” given its striking resemblance to an emerald cut diamond,” they say.

The galaxy sits in a group of about 250 dwarf galaxies some 21 megaparsecs from Earth in the constellation of Eridanus. It’s just a nipper, with a mass some 10 billion times that of the Sun. By contrast, the Milky Way is about a thousand times heavier.

The obvious question is how did it form. Graham and co think the emerald cut galaxy formed from the merger of two disc galaxies, like a couple of pancakes on top of each other. From the side, this looks rectangular. 

That’s clearly a rare type of event but not entirely unknown. Graham and co say astronomers have discovered seven other rectangular examples out of the many millions of galaxies they’ve catalogued. 

However, we may not have to look far to find another exotic shape. A couple of years ago, astronomers said they’d found evidence that the arms of the Milky Way were straightish, giving our galaxy a distinctly square look, like the Pinwheel galaxy, M101.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1203.3608: LEDA 074886: A Remarkable Rectangular-Looking Galaxy 

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.