Astronomers have captured images of a rare type of galaxy dubbed a “cosmic ring of fire” that existed about 11 billion years ago, according to a study published Monday.
The galaxy, called R5519, is believed to be a “collissional ring” formed when two galaxies smashed into one another, according to the study published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
The galaxy has about the same mass as the Milky Way, but unlike our spiral galaxy, R5119 has a massive hole in the middle of it that makes it resemble a gigantic donut, according to the study.
“It is a very curious object that we’ve never seen before,” said lead researcher Tiantian Yuan of Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions.
“It looks strange and familiar at the same time,” he added.
The galaxy exists in the very early universe, the researchers said, just three billion years after the Big Bang.
Researchers discovered the galaxy using data from the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii and images recorded by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Yuan added the galaxy is making stars at a rate 50 times greater than the Milky Way.
“Most of that activity is taking place on its ring — so it truly is a ring of fire,” he said in a statement.
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