Despite this, the galaxy, to the surprise of astronomers, contains several generations of stars and many chemical elements, and the metallicity of some of its stars is comparable to that of the Sun.
Astronomers from Cornell University (USA) were studying images of the famous early galaxy SPT0418-47 taken with NASA‘s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) when a bright object near the outer edge of the galaxy caught their attention.
Further studies have shown that this is a small companion galaxy, which, oddly enough, contains several generations of stars, although its age does not exceed 1.4 billion years.
In addition, this young galaxy abounded in various chemical elements.
The results of the study, could change our understanding of the formation of stars and galaxies in the early universe.
The unique galaxy has been named SPT0418-SE and is located very close to its companion SPT0418-47.
Therefore, they can probably interact, and possibly even merge with each other. This observation adds to the understanding of how early galaxies may have evolved into larger ones.
SPT0418-SE and SPT0418-47 are small compared to other galaxies in the early universe. Scientists also believe that they may be surrounded by a massive halo of dark matter.
However, the most surprising feature of the discovered galaxy was its mature metallicity, surprising for such age and mass.
Metallicity is the relative concentration of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen.
Scientists estimate that the metallicity of some SPT0418-SE stars is comparable to that of the Sun, which is over four billion years old.
Our star inherited most of its metals from previous generations of stars that took billions of years to create.
In SPT0418-SE, scientists observed traces of at least several generations of stars that had time to appear and die during the first billion years of the existence of the universe.
Probably, the process of star formation in this galaxy should have been efficient and started very early.
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