Named HSC J1631+4426, the galaxy is located 430 million light-years from Earth and is probably part of the last generation of galaxies in the Universe.
A group led by the University of Tokyo, Japan, found the galaxy with the lowest amount of oxygen ever observed. Named HSC J1631+4426, the galaxy is located 430 million light-years away, in the constellation Hercules.
In an article published this week in The Astrophysical Journal, scientists explain that they used data from the Subaru Telescope, of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, located in Hawaii.
Thanks to a machine learning algorithm they were able to analyze the data and found that the oxygen abundance of HSC J1631+4426 is equivalent to just 1.6% that of the Sun.
The amount of oxygen measured suggests that most of the stars in this galaxy formed very recently – the system is in the early stages of its evolution.
“What is surprising is that the stellar mass of the HSC J1631+4426 galaxy is very small, 0.8 million solar masses,” said Masami Ouchim, co-author of the study, in a statement. “This stellar mass is only about 1/100,000 of our Milky Way galaxy, and comparable to the mass of a star cluster in our Milky Way.”
For the researchers, this discovery suggests two things. First, the HSC J1631+4426 galaxy confirms the current theory of how galaxies form.
Second, taking its age into account, it may be part of the last generation of galaxies – and studying it will help scientists discover more details about the history of the Universe.