A recently discovered dwarf galaxy in the constellation Lynx may serve well as a proxy for better understanding the developing chemistry of the early universe, according to a research team that includes University of Virginia astronomers.
Their new finding, published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, shows that the oxygen level in the little galaxy is the lowest yet discovered in any star-forming galaxy, likely resembling early nascent galaxies.
Astronomers know that the first galaxies during their forming stages were chemically simple – primarily made up of hydrogen and helium, elements made in the Big Bang during the first three minutes of the universe’s existence. Oxygen came later, as massive stars formed and made heavier and more complex elements by nuclear fusion in their interiors and also in their explosive deaths, ultimately creating a universe of countless oxygen-rich galaxies like our Milky Way.
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