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The universe contains somewhere in the ballpark of 100 billion and 200 billion galaxies. With numbers that large, you can bet that there are some real weirdos out there. Out beyond our Milky Way, there are galaxies shaped like jellyfish, galaxies that consume other galaxies, and galaxies that seem to lack the dark matter that pervades the rest of the universe.
Here are some of the strangest galaxies out there.
Constellation - Triangulum - Australe - ESO - Looks
Located in the constellation Triangulum Australe, galaxy ESO 137-001 looks amazingly like a jellyfish swimming amid a sea of stars. The galaxy is a barred spiral galaxy — together, its stars form a spiral shape with a bar-shaped center — with a twist: streamers of stars that seem to drift like jellyfish tentacles.
According to NASA, these stars are forming inside a tail of dust and gas (invisible to the naked eye) that streams off ESO 137-001. This formation process is a bit of a mystery, as the gases in the tail should be too hot for star formation.
In 2018, the Hubble Space Telescope spied something never seen before: a galaxy with almost no dark matter.
Discovery - Flags - Dark - Matter - Form
This discovery immediately raised red flags. Dark matter is a mysterious form of matter that interacts with gravity, but not with light. It makes up more of the total matter in the universe than the matter we can see, so finding a galaxy without any was bizarre, to say the least.
A year later, scientific sleuths solved the mystery: The galaxy, NGC 1052-DF2, was not 65 million light-years away, as originally believed. It's really only about 42 million light-years away, researchers reported March 14, 2019, in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. That change in distance completely alters the calculations for the galaxy's mass. Turns out, it's a pretty normal...
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