We’re fairly familiar with typical galaxy shapes. We live in a spiral galaxy, the same type as our nearest neighbor Andromeda. There are also elliptical galaxies, barred spiral galaxies, and irregular galaxies. But did you know that, outside of the typical classifications, there is another type of galaxy that’s rather odd? These are known as ring galaxies, and Hoag’s Object is one such galaxy.
1. It all started with Arthur Hoag in 1950.
Hoag’s object is so named because of its discoverer, Arthur Hoag. Arthur was an astronomer, and during his observations he spotted something no one had seen before. It was small, and looked to be bright ball of light surrounded by a faint ring. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he had three guesses: it was either a nebula, Einstein ring, or perhaps a very odd galaxy. His last guess was right.
2. Is it a galaxy, or a galaxy within a galaxy?
Hoag’s Object actually looks like two separate formations, leading to the question of whether it is actually two galaxies in one or one single, spread out galaxy. It comes down to a question of classification, and since ring galaxies make up less than 0.1% of all the galaxies out there, it might take a while for astronomers to decide.
3.How did it form? No one knows.
The big mystery surrounding Hoag’s Object isn’t just what it is, but how it came to be. Such a configuration is pretty odd, and so far every theory we’ve come up with just doesn’t seem to cut it. We might begin to understand the more we look for ring galaxies, but the issue is that even when we do, they’re not exactly like Hoag’s Object. It’s quite unique, which makes it even more of an intriguing mystery.