(ORDO NEWS) — The Peekaboo Galaxy is a tiny galaxy 20 million light-years from Earth . The object is only about 1,200 light-years across, which is incredibly small for a galaxy.
For comparison, the diameter of the Milky Way , our galaxy with you, is approximately 100,000 light years. Even the Small Magellanic Cloud , a dwarf satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, is 18,900 light-years across!
The official designation of the galaxy under study is HIPASS J1131-31, but why did they decide to call it “Ku-Ku”?
The thing is that the galaxy “hidden” for a very long time behind the bright and rapidly rotating star of the Milky Way, which prevented earthly scientists from observing the mysterious “star factory”.
At some point, the galaxy abruptly “popped out” from behind the star (and was seen by the NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope ), which reminded of the game that parents sometimes play with their kids.
For example, a mother in front of a child hides for a few seconds behind some kind of barrier, and then appears with an exclamation: “Ku-ku!”
A distinctive feature of the Ku-Ku galaxy – apart from its size – is its extremely low metallicity.
Recall that in astrophysics, metallicity is a measure of the relative concentration of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium in various astronomical objects.
By selecting 60 random stars located in different regions of the Ku-Ku galaxy, astronomers found that they are all significantly younger than the stars of the local Universe and exhibit extremely low metallicity.
All this suggests that the Ku-Ku galaxy is an amazing find, allowing us to travel back in time to study the conditions that prevailed in the early Universe.
Exploring the early universe
As you know, to study the early Universe, we need very powerful tools that allow us to look billions of light years from Earth.
Space telescopes such as NASA/ESA Hubble and NASA James Webb are suitable for this purpose, the latter of which discovered the galaxy CEERS-93316, observing it as it was, probably 235 million years after the Big Bang.
Given the enormous distances, scientists have formed only a rough idea of what happened in the Universe – which is approximately 13.8 billion years old – “only” hundreds of millions of years after its birth.
The Ku-Ku Galaxy is an unparalleled opportunity to explore the early universe, study individual stars, and better understand how galaxies evolved.
Why is the Ku-Ku galaxy located at a relatively small distance from the Earth? Probably, this is somehow connected with the surroundings of the galaxy, which did not have the resources to increase the “stellar mass”.
Something similar is demonstrated by nearby dwarf galaxies, “frozen” in development.
However, it is possible that the existence of a mysterious galaxy is associated with some processes unknown to us, including meager knowledge about the development of the Universe after the Big Bang.
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