Heart-shaped galaxy found

28 February 2010, 07:00 | Updated: 2 March 2010, 08:35

An Oxford student's discovered the first ever Heart-shaped galaxy.

Masters student Georgia Barrie spotted the galaxy while looking through photos of distant parts of the universe.

She's been telling Heart it was quite a surprise to come across it: "I was pretty sure that it was something really special but I'm not a professional physicist so I sent it to my supervisor and said 'Do you know what this is?'  He was really shocked.

"Ring galaxies themselves are so rare so to see two actually merging together is incredibly rare."

It's thought it might have formed by two ring galaxies merging. A team from Oxford University are hoping to fly out to Hawaii to look at the galaxy more closely through a powerful telescope.

Georgia says she would quite enjoy it if the galaxy were named after her: "I'm not sure what the official line for naming galaxies is, but that would be quite a nice legacy I think for my four years in physics but we'll have to wait and see."

Oxford University are asking members of the public to categorise galaxies that have been recorded by a telescope, because the human brain is better at doing that than any computer.  More than 150,000 people have already taken part in the Galaxy Zoo project.

Read Georgia's blog