This galaxy is named PGC 1000714, and was discovered at a location 359 million light-years away from Earth. The “new” galaxy belongs to a rare group of which only 0.1% of the galaxies known to man are part.
Scientists at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the Museum of Natural Sciences in North Carolina made a first description of this galaxy, which appears to have a well-defined elliptical nucleus surrounded by two circular rings. “The galaxy appears to belong to a rarely observed, Hoag-like class,” said a statement quoted by Efe.
“Less than 0.1 percent of all observed galaxies are of the Hoag type”, said lead author Burcin Mutlu-Pakdil of the Astrophysics Institute at the University of Minnesota. Hoag-like galaxies have a circular nucleus surrounded by a ring and nothing visible that connects both parts, while most of the observed galaxies are like the Milky Way in a spiral shape.
The researchers collected some images of this galaxy, which can only be easily seen from the southern hemisphere with a large telescope from the mountains of Chile. These images have already served to determine the age of the two main parts of the galaxy, the outer ring and the central body. But evidence has also been found of the existence of a second inner ring around the central body, as described in the statement.
Although astrophysicists have already observed galaxies with a blue ring around a red central body, in this case, the particular feature of this galaxy, there seems to be an older, diffuse inner ring, said Patrick Treauthardt of the Museum of Natural Sciences North Caroline.
The rings of the galaxies with regions where the stars formed from gas and the different colors of the inner and outer discs suggest that the PGC 1000714 underwent two different periods of formation.
Although through the initial images it is not possible to know for sure when the disks of this galaxy formed, experts consider that the outer ring may be the result of the incorporation of sections of a nearby gas-rich galaxy. “Whenever we find a unique or strange object to study, it challenges our current theories and hypotheses about how the universe works. It usually tells us that we still have a lot of things to learn, “he added.