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Why are galaxies different shapes?

Look into the night sky and you will catch a glimpse of the stars from hundreds of billions of galaxies. Some galaxies swirl blue disks like our own Milky Way, others are red spheres or malformed, lumpy root or something in between. Why the different configurations? It turns out that the shape of a galaxy tells us something about the events of the galaxy’s ultra-long life.

At the very 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 egg yolk, surrounded by a disk of gas and stars ̵

1; egg white. The Milky Way and our closest neighbor Andromeda in the galaxy fall into this category.

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