One of the most unusual galaxies in the Universe was photographed: what makes it special

Maria ShevchukNews
The Spiral or Pancake Galaxy is unlike any other galaxy. Source: NASA

Researchers have created a space photo of the Helix Galaxy, located near the Big Dipper. Its unique shape is given by bizarre loops of dust and gas.

NGC 2685 is the name of a lenticular galaxy with a "polar ring" discovered on April 10, 2024. According to Live Science, it is located at a distance of 40 million light years from us.

The Spiral, or as it is also called because of its shape, the Pancake Galaxy is the outskirts of the visible Universe.

Galaxies are the homes of gas, dust, and all the stars and planets; they are held together by gravity. They are usually of different types.

The most common are elliptical, which are round and, according to NASA, usually contain older stars. There are also spiral galaxies, where stars arranged in so-called "sleeves" give them a spinning top appearance. One of these is our Milky Way.

However, NGC 2685 does not belong to any of these types. It is classified as a lenticular galaxy because it has a central bulge, but at the same time, it has no spiral arms. As the image from the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii shows, it contains rings of gas, dust, and stars that rotate in loops perpendicular to the flat surface. It is this feature that gives it the additional description of a "polar ring" galaxy.

The new image is an update of a picture taken in 1998 from the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.

According to NASA, lenticular galaxies are considered to be old spiral galaxies whose arms have "worn off". However, the unique structure of NGC 2685 may be the result of the collision of two or more galaxies and their merger over millions of years.

According to the research, the current structure of NGC 2685 arose as a result of the capture of material from another galaxy, which was pulled into the ring surrounding it, NOIRLab writes.

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