Free Press Journal

Spotted: Mysterious ‘Frankenstein’ galaxy



Washington: Scientists have uncovered a bizarre ‘Frankenstein’ galaxy possibly formed from the parts of other galaxies, located about 250 million light-years away, reports PTI. A new study unveils 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.

“This rare, ‘Frankenstein’ galaxy formed and is able to survive because it lies in a quiet little suburban neighbourhood of the universe, where none of the hubbub of the more crowded parts can bother it,” said Mark Seibert from Carnegie Institution for Science in the US. “It is so delicate that a slight nudge from a neighbour would cause it to disintegrate,” Seibert said.

Seibert and Lea Hagen, a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University came upon this galaxy by accident. They had been looking for stars forming in run-of-the-mill elliptical galaxies, which do not spin and are more 3D and football-shaped than flat disks. Astronomers originally thought that UGC 1382 was one of those.

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. “We saw spiral arms extending far outside this galaxy, which no one had noticed before, and which elliptical galaxies should not have,” said Hagen, who led the study.

Researchers then looked at optical and infrared light observations from the other telescopes and build a new model of this mysterious galaxy. UGC 1382, at about 718,000 light-years across, is more than seven times wider than the Milky Way, they found.