Click to see a larger image (Credit: Ken Crawford, Rancho Del Sol Observatory)

This beauty is NGC 2685 – also known as Arp 336, or the Helix Galaxy – a fantastic example of a rare type of galaxy, known as a polar ring galaxy.

 

Galaxies of this type likely form through gravitational interactions between pairs, which distort the overall structure of the galaxies involved. After which a rotating outer band of star formation materials orbits an almost perfectly perpendicular plane (compared to the typically flat plane most stars orbit), with the remnant of the inner disk in the center.

 

This gravitational interaction will kick start a new era of star formation activity within the affected galaxies.


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