Why are galaxies shaped like spirals
Astronomers discover oldest spiral galaxy
"As far as we know today, pronounced spiral galaxies should not actually exist at such an early point in the history of the universe," says astronomer David Law from the University of Toronto. His colleague Alice Shapley adds: "Galaxies from this period look really strange, lumpy and irregular, not symmetrical." The early galaxies only grew into the structures we know today through mutual collisions and the influx of intergalactic gas. The nicely symmetrically shaped galaxy with the unpretentious name Q2343-BX442 is a special case that causes some headaches for astronomers.
One explanation could be that its companion, a dwarf galaxy, helped it develop this spiral structure. Combined measurements with the Hubble space telescope and the Osiris spectrograph on the extinct Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii have revealed this companion. As the researchers calculated using simulations, its gravity could have caused the spiral structure. At some point this dwarf galaxy will be devoured by the big one; just as our Milky Way has incorporated some smaller companions. Astronomers therefore suspect that spiral galaxies are primarily formed through mergers.
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