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. They are the result of recent mergers between two or more normal (i.e. spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies, etc.) galaxies. Specifically, Peculiar galaxies may be from galaxy mergers and collisions that happened in the recent past. Peculiar galaxies are of similar size to regular sized Spiral and Elliptical galaxies, and seem to have features and properties similar to these galaxy types. Also, during collisions it is expected that there would be a spike in activity such as star formation or ignition of the nucleus of one or both galaxies; a common property of Peculiar galaxies as well. Peculiar galaxies are designated by "p" or "pec" in some catalogs.
Peculiar galaxies have been mapped by Halton Arp in his 1966 Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies. 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".
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