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Rare 'Frankenstein' Galaxy Surprises Astronomers

Jul 13, 2016 04:29 AM EDT
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NASA found a massive and bizarre galaxy made up of materials that are both young and old that appeared to be spliced up from many different galaxies. The galaxy was originally thought to be quiet and unremarkable located 250 million light-years away.

The study will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. It will discuss the remarkable attributes of UCG 1382 known as "Frankenstein" galaxy originally believed to be old, quiet and boring. But using NASA's innovative telescopes and other data, scientists proved that the galaxy is actually 10 times bigger than originally thought. What sets it apart from other galaxies is that the galaxy seems to be younger inside than outside, which only happens if something is built with spare parts, just like Frankenstein.

"This rare, 'Frankenstein' galaxy formed and is able to survive because it lies in a quiet little suburban neighborhood of the universe, where none of the hubbub of the more crowded parts can bother it," study co-author Mark Seibert of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science said in a statement. "It is so delicate that a slight nudge from a neighbor would cause it to disintegrate," Seibert added.

Seibert and his team discovered the new characteristics of the galaxy in an accident. They are studying elliptical galaxies that do not spin. These are more three-dimensional galaxies compared to flat disks, UGC 1382 was believed to be one of them.

While studying the images in ultraviolet light from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), they discovered spiral arms extending far outside the galaxy that hasn't been observed before. "That put us on an expedition to find out what this galaxy is and how it formed," Lea Hagen, co-author of the study said in a statement published by ABC.

By using data from other observatories and telescopes, and by using infrared technology, the researchers were able to build new models of the Frankenstein galaxy. Based on the new model they found out that the 718,000 light-years across, the massive galaxy is ten times bigger than Milky Way.

Researchers are now trying to determine why the bizarre components of the galaxy differ, the outside is older than the inside.

 

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