Washington: Scientists have revealed that giant galaxies containing billions of stars are formed in a much similar way as delicate snowflakes.

The first direct evidence to support the theory of galaxy formation being likened to the birth of a snowflake has been provided by an international team led by Swinburne University of Technology.

Researchers studied data from three different telescopes in order to help confirm the formation theory of galaxy. This theory was proposed last year by German astronomer Ludwig Oser and his colleagues.

"What we've found is that galaxies form in two phases. Firstly, an inner region of stars is formed from collapsing gas. This region then acts as a core, or 'seed', around which
the galaxy grows as the result of stars which are acquired from other smaller galaxies," Prof Duncan Forbes, who led the team, said.

Team member Prof Jean Brodie of the University of California said, "Our work provides some of the best evidence for this inside-out build up of giant galaxies."

What intrigued the astronomers was the similarity between this inside-out process for giant galaxy formation and the way that snowflakes are formed.