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Why do galaxies have different shapes?



Look at the night sky and you will see stars from hundreds of billions of galaxies. Some galaxies rotate blue disks like our own Milky Way, others are red spheres or misshapen, clumpy messes or something in between. Why the different configurations? It turns out that the shape of a galaxy tells us about events in the very long life of that galaxy.

At the basic level there are two classifications for galaxy shapes: disk and elliptical. A disk galaxy, also called a spiral galaxy, is shaped like a fried egg, said Cameron Hummels, theoretical astrophysicist at Caltech. These galaxies have a more spherical center, like the yolk, surrounded by a gas disk and stars – egg white. The Milky Way and our closest galaxy neighbor Andromeda fall into this category.


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