Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Meet PGC 18431: a galaxy found 31 million light-years from Earth in the obscure constellation of Columba. Since it doesn't have a clean shape, and no features are clear (no discernible central core, or expansive spiral arms), the galaxy is of the irregular variety.

It might not look like much to some, but this image of PGC 18431 is scientifically significant. It dwells within a region of space called the Local Volume. Incidentally, our galaxy also lurks within the local volume (as does our closest large neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, along with hundreds of others), but unlike the images taken of closer members of the club, this image of PGC 18431 was used to gauge key qualities of the galaxies, and how they interact, within this 35-million-light-year cone. More about the research conducted by NASA/ESA:

See a larger image here.

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