Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies

The Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies is a catalog of peculiar galaxies produced by Halton Arp. A total of 338 galaxies are presented in the atlas, which was originally published in 1966 by the California Institute of Technology.

The primary goal of the catalog was to present photographs of examples of the different kinds of peculiar structures found among nearby galaxies. Arp realized that the reason why galaxies formed into spiral or elliptical shapes was not well understood. He perceived peculiar galaxies as small "experiments" that astronomers could use to understand the physical processes that distort spiral or elliptical galaxies. With this atlas, astronomers had a sample of peculiar galaxies that they could study in more detail. The atlas does not present a complete overview of every peculiar galaxy in the sky but instead provides examples of the different phenomena as observed in nearby galaxies.

Because little was known at the time of publication about the physical processes that caused the different shapes, the galaxies in the atlas are sorted based on their appearance. Objects 1-101 are individual peculiar spiral galaxies or spiral galaxies that apparently have small companions. Objects 102-145 are elliptical and elliptical-like galaxies. Individual or groups of galaxies with neither elliptical nor spiral shapes are listed as objects 146-268. Objects 269-327 are double galaxies. Finally, objects that simply do not fit into any of the above categories are listed as objects 332-338. Most objects are best known by their other designations, but a few galaxies are best known by their Arp numbers (such as Arp 220).

Today, the physical processes that lead to the peculiarities seen in the Arp atlas are now well understood. A large number of the objects are interacting galaxies, including M51 (Arp 85), Arp 220, and the Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038/NGC 4039, or Arp 244). A few of the galaxies are simply dwarf galaxies that do not have enough mass to produce enough gravity to allow the galaxies to form any cohesive structure. NGC 1569 (Arp 210) is an example of one of the dwarf galaxies in the atlas. A few other galaxies are radio galaxies. These objects contain active galactic nuclei that produce powerful jets of gas called radio jets. The atlas includes the nearby radio galaxies M87 (Arp 152) and Centaurus A (Arp 153).

Read more about Atlas Of Peculiar GalaxiesNotable Arp Galaxies, Brightest Arp Galaxies For Amateur Astronomers

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... compiled a list of the brightest Arp Galaxies that are most easily viewed by typical amateur astronomers ... The galaxies on the list can be observed visually and do not require special photographic or imaging equipment ...

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