New blue galaxy is answering questions about our galaxy

The best types of discoveries are those that help us to answer questions about our own galaxy. How did we get here? Why did we get here? Why was everything created? LIGO’s gravitational waves are helping us to look at our universe with a different perspective. But the recent discovery of a blue galaxy is now helping us answer one of the biggest theories ever – the Big Bang Theory.

30 million light years away is a  galaxy that scientists are calling AGC 198691. The object has the lowest amount of heavy elements (metals) we’ve ever seen before. This indicates that not much has changed in AGC 198691 since its birth.

Carbon, oxygen, and more is thrown out into space when a star dies, due to a large explosion at the end of its life called a supernova. The small, blue galaxy has 1.3% metallicity of the Sun, letting us know that there haven’t been any star formations.


Photo credit: NASA/A. Hirschauer & J. Salzer/Indiana University/J. Cannon/Macalester College/K. McQuinn/University of Texas.

The reason this little mystery is blue is because the stars in AGC 198691 are fairly new, and their luminosity is the lowest we have ever seen for an object of its kind.

The discovery of AGC 198691 is extremely rare, which is why the unearthing of the galaxy is allowing us to ask questions about our own Milky Way.

“Finding the most metal-poor galaxy ever is exciting since it could help contribute to a quantitative test of the Big Bang. There are relatively few ways to explore conditions at the birth of the universe, but low-metal galaxies are among the most promising,” said Professor John J. Salzer of Indiana University, in a statement in the Astrophysical Journal via IU Bloomington Newsroom.

The full paper can be found here.

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