MELBOURNE, March 20 (UPI) -- Australian astronomers working with international colleagues say they've discovered a rare square galaxy with a striking resemblance to an emerald cut diamond.
Working with astronomers from Australia, Germany, Switzerland and Finland, researchers at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne used the Japanese Subaru Telescope in Hawaii to image the galaxy LEDA 074886 and record its unusual shape.
"In the universe around us, most galaxies exist in one of three forms: spheroidal, disc-like, or lumpy and irregular in appearance," Alister Graham said in a Swinburne release Monday.
The rectangular shape of the LEDA galaxy makes it a very unusual object, he said.
"It's one of those things that just makes you smile because it shouldn't exist, or rather you don't expect it to exist."
Astronomers aren't sure how the galaxy got its distinctive shape.
"One possibility is that the galaxy may have formed out of the collision of two spiral galaxies," Swinburne researcher Duncan Forbes said.
The galaxy's small size and distant location made its discovery difficult, astronomers said.
"One of the reasons this emerald cut galaxy was hard to find is due to its dwarf-like status: it has 50 times less stars than our own Milky Way galaxy, plus its distance from us is equivalent to that spanned by 700 Milky Way galaxies placed end-to-end," Graham said.