Scientists have spotted a galaxy that doesn't look anything like what we've seen before.
PGC 1000714, as it is known, might be a one of a kind in the entire universe. At the heart of it is a 5.5 billion-year-old core, that looks red; that's circled by a faint blue ring.
The galaxy belongs to a specific class of Hoag-type galaxies, which by themselves make up less than 0.1 per cent of all observed galaxies.
Most galaxies are disc-shaped, like our own galaxies. But Hoag-type galaxies are round cores that are surrounded by a circular ring, with nothing connecting the two bits.
Scientists can use strange galaxies like the newly-discovered one to understand more about how galaxies are formed and how they change over time.
In studying PGC 1000714, researchers collected multi-waveband images of it. They could then determine the ages of the tow main features of it, its outer ring and its central, main part.
But the real shock came when the researchers found another second ring around the central part. What is unique is that strange, diffuse red inner ring that sits inside of the blue one.
Understanding more about how that strange ring – which are formed from colliding gas – will tell us more about how those galaxies can be formed.
"The different colors of the inner and outer ring suggest that this galaxy has experienced two different formation periods," said Burcin Mutlu-Pakdil, lead author of the paper. "From these initial single snapshots in time, it's impossible to know how the rings of this particular galaxy were formed."
And it could even upset our understanding of how the universe works.
"Whenever we find a unique or strange object to study, it challenges our current theories and assumptions about how the Universe works," said Patrick Treuthardt, a co-author of the study. "It usually tells us that we still have a lot to learn."
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