Scientists found the first relic galaxy that hasn't changed since the formation of the universe after the Big Bang. Relic galaxies have been preserved in time, they have the same exact properties they did when they formed billions of years ago.
Scientists believe that everyone in a thousand massive galaxies is a relic galaxy.
First Relic Galaxy Found
Researchers from the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias and the University of La Laguna originally located this relic galaxy using a ground telescope. They published their results in the journal Nature. Scientists showed that galaxy NGC 1277 has only red globular clusters, it formed while the galaxy was forming. They saw that it had been unchanged since it formed.
This is the first time that a galaxy is seen with such a low concentration of blue globular clusters. NGC 1277 is made up of a million stars. It is located in the Perseus Cluster which holds the largest concentration of galaxies near the Milky Way. It is 225 million light years away from the Milky Way.
Michael Beasley and Ignacio Trujillo originally wrote a proposal so that this observation could be verified using the Hubble Space Telescope. They believe that they found a relic galaxy among a bunch of globular clusters, which are groups of stars found at the end of galaxies and formed at the birth of the galaxy.
There are two types of globular clusters, red ones and blue ones. Red globular clusters are born in massive galaxies, they're found closer to the center of the galaxy and are made up more of heavy elements rather than helium. Blue globular clusters have a lower fraction of metals and are found around massive galaxies that have absorbed smaller galaxies.
Scientists are hoping that this could give them a chance to observe how a nearby galaxy behaved after the formation of the universe. NGC 1277 formed 1,000 stars per year, the Milky Way forms 1 star per year.
Researchers say that NGC 1277's location may be responsible for being able to stay in its primitive state. Since NGC 1277 was located near the Perseus cluster it was robbed of any material by the cluster which just absorbed material which changed the way that it would form.
NGC 1277 looks the same way that it did when it formed 12 billion years ago. The universe is aged at around 13.8 billion years old. This would put it during the infancy stage of the universe.