A peculiar galaxy is a galaxy which is unusual in its size, shape, or composition. Peculiar galaxies come about as a result of interactions between galaxies, and they may contain atypical amounts of dust or gas, may have higher or lower surface brightness than a typical galaxy, or may have features such as nuclear jets. They can be highly irregular in shape due to the immense gravitational forces which act on them during encounters with other galaxies. Peculiar galaxies are designated by "p" or "pec" in some catalogs.
Peculiar galaxies have been mapped by Halton Arp. Arp says that "The peculiarities of the galaxies pictured in this Atlas represent perturbations, deformations, and interactions which should enable us to analyze the nature of the real galaxies which we observe and which are too remote to experiment on directly".