It’s tough competition out there for a galaxy. With an estimate of nearly 2 trillion observable galaxies in the universe, you have to do what you can to stand out. For some, it’s about sheer muscle power. A recent image of a distant galaxy reveals the celestial object flexing one of its spiral arms, creating a peculiar shape that makes it stand out among its counterparts.
The galaxy’s overdeveloped arm stretches out across, creating the illusion that galaxy NGC 772 is about to challenge you for an arm-wrestling contest. The impressive shot was captured by the Gemini North telescope, which is located near the summit of Maunakea in Hawaii.
The image shows galaxy NGC 772, a spiral galaxy located about 100 million light years away from Earth in the constellation Aries, surrounded by a number of satellite galaxies that can be seen in the background. NGC 772 is twice the size of the Milky Way Galaxy, another spiral galaxy.
Spiral galaxies are easily identifiable through their twisty shapes. The galaxy is usually composed of a dense bulge at the center of a rotating disc, which is made up of gas and hundreds of stars.
That material ends up looking like spiraling arms caught in a cosmic twirl. But for NGC 772, one of its arms was severely overdeveloped. The extra-long arm can be seen stretched out across towards the left side of the image.
Even more impressive is that this galaxy gained its cosmic flex after battling it out with a galactic rival. The overdeveloped arm was likely a result of tidal interactions with a misbehaving neighbor, the dwarf elliptical galaxy NGC 770.
When two galaxies get too close to one another, they tend to pull on each other due to their gravitational force.
The tidal interactions between these two, or the interaction between each other’s gravitational force, has resulted in gas and stars being stripped away from the outer regions of the galaxy. As a result, galaxy NGC 772’s spiral arm was stretched out and distorted to give it this lopsided appearance.
But the galaxy is making the best of it. Its odd appearance has earned it the 78th place in the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, a gallery of the weirdest galaxies out there.
Other spiral galaxies like the Milky Way and Andromeda also have a bright, central bar, or a linear structure made up of gas, dust, and stars. But NGC 772 seems to be missing its central bar, and instead has its spiraling arms stemming directly from its bright center.
Another weird flex, but okay.