Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Emerging Technology from the arXiv

A View from Emerging Technology from the arXiv

Astronomers Discover Rectangular Galaxy

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

  • March 20, 2012

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 

AI and robotics are changing the future of work.  Are you ready?  Join us at EmTech Next 2019.

Register now
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to MIT Technology Review.
  • Print + All Access Digital {! insider.prices.print_digital !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The best of MIT Technology Review in print and online, plus unlimited access to our online archive, an ad-free web experience, discounts to MIT Technology Review events, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    6 bi-monthly issues of print + digital magazine

    10% discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    Ad-free website experience

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

    The MIT Technology Review App

  • All Access Digital {! insider.prices.digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The digital magazine, plus unlimited site access, our online archive, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    Digital magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

  • Print Subscription {! insider.prices.print_only !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six print issues per year plus The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Print magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.