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The Large Magellanic Cloud, an irregular galaxy.
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© Loke Kun Tan (StarryScapes)

Irregular Galaxies

Any galaxy which does not look like an elliptical or spiral is called an irregular galaxy. Every irregular galaxy is unique in it's appearance. It doesn't have to look like the others. It just isn't a spiral or an elliptical.

There are two types of irregulars. Irr I galaxies are similar to spirals because they have lots of gas and young stars, but they don't have spiral arms. Irr II galaxies are distorted and strange looking. Their appearance leads some astronomers to think that Irr II galaxies may have collided with another galaxy at some time during their lives.

If you live south of the Equator, you may be able to see two irregular type galaxies in your night sky. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are two very nearby irregular galaxies which are orbitting the Milky Way. Because they are nearby and fairly bright, they can be seen with the unaided eye.

Last modified December 21, 2005 by Travis Metcalfe.

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