A polar-ring galaxy features an external ring of gas and stars that spin around the galaxy's poles. This unique structure is believed to arise from the gravitational interactions between two galaxies
Indian astronomers from Bangalore’s Christ University have identified a potential new polar ring galaxy (PRG) through data from the Dark Energy Camera Legacy Survey (DECaLS). Designated as DES J024008.08-551047.5, or DJ0240 for brevity, this recent discovery might expand the already exclusive club of confirmed polar ring galaxies.
A polar-ring galaxy features an external ring of gas and stars that spin around the galaxy’s poles. This unique structure is believed to arise from the gravitational interactions between two galaxies
Polar ring galaxies, a peculiar galactic system, consist of a lenticular galaxy (S0-like galaxy) coupled with a polar ring that can stay distinct for billions of years. The ring, rich in gas and stars, usually aligns almost perpendicular to the central galaxy’s primary axis.
While over 400 potential PRGs have been identified, only a handful have been verified as genuine polar ring galaxies through intensive spectroscopic observations.
What Makes DJ0240 Stand Out
The team, under the guidance of Akhil Krishna, uncovered DJ0240 during their DECaLS visual observations. According to their findings, the ring of this galaxy interestingly positions itself almost orthogonal to the host galaxy, further solidifying its PRG status.
Notably, the galaxy’s ring appears threefold larger than the central host, distinguished by its bulge and disk. A striking feature of this ring is its bluish hue, often associated with heightened star-formation activity, commonly seen in known PRGs.
The researchers also emphasized that DJ0240’s ring displays a relatively petite Sersic index, aligning it further with PRG traits. They also found its effective radii consistent with established PRGs.
Conclusive Remarks and Future Explorations
While the compelling evidence suggests DJ0240’s membership in the PRG category, excluding it as a lenticular galaxy, definitive classification still awaits. The team asserts, “While DJ0240 emerges as a compelling PRG contender, in-depth studies, especially spectroscopic observations, remain essential to ascertain its genuine polar ring galaxy status.”
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