(Submitted February 15, 1998)
What different types of galaxies are there?
What are their similarities and differences?
There are indeed different types of galaxies. The main types are spiral
galaxies (like our own MilkyWay), elliptical galaxies and irregular
galaxies. An irregular galaxy has an undefined shape and has lots of
young stars, dust and gas. A spiral galaxy is shaped like a disk,
usually with a bulge in the center and with arms that spiral
outwards as the galaxy rotates. Spiral galaxies tend to contain more
middle-aged stars along with clouds of gas and dust. Elliptical galaxies
contain older stars and very little gas and dust. They can be different
shapes ranging from round, to flattened, elongated spheres.
J. Allie Cliffe
for Ask an Astrophysicist