New Delhi: It's amazing how things or places that are under-estimated can yield the most surprising results. This time, it is scientists and astronomers at NASA who are stumped at the discovery of a new galaxy!
The galaxy in question is about 250 million light-years away and was earlier deemed quiet and unremarkable, however, it appears to have formed from the parts of other existing galaxies.
As per NASA, a new study to be published in the Astrophysical Journal reveals the secret of UGC 1382, a galaxy that had originally been thought to be old, small and typical. Instead, scientists using data from NASA telescopes and other observatories have discovered that the galaxy is 10 times bigger than previously thought and, unlike most galaxies, its insides are younger than its outsides, almost as if it had been built using spare parts.
'Frankestein' galaxy, as it is being called, is thriving 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. It is so delicate that a slight nudge from a neighbor would cause it to disintegrate,” study co-author Mark Seibert of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Pasadena, California, told NASA.
Seibert and Lea Hagen, a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, were actually looking for stars forming in run-of-the-mill elliptical galaxies, when they accidentally stumbled upon 'Frankenstein', believing it to be one of those.
But while looking at images of galaxies in ultraviolet light through data from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), a behemoth began to emerge from the darkness.
NASA further reported that, UGC 1382, at about 718,000 light-years across, is more than seven times wider than the Milky Way. It is also one of the three largest isolated disk galaxies ever discovered, according to the study. This galaxy is a rotating disk of low-density gas. Stars don't form here very quickly because the gas is so spread out.
This discovery has led to astronomers' speculation of the existence of similar galaxies. However, to confirm this, more research would need to be carried out.
The GALEX mission, which ended in 2013 after more than a decade of scanning the skies in ultraviolet light, was led by scientists at Caltech in Pasadena, California. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, managed the mission and built the science instrument. Data for the 2MASS and WISE missions are archived at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at Caltech. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA.