back to article So many stars, so little time: Machine learning helps astroboffins spot the most oxygen-starved galaxy yet

Astronomers have spied a tiny galaxy with the lowest oxygen levels yet observed, a discovery made possible thanks to a machine-learning algorithm. The galaxy, dubbed HSC J1631+4426, contains just 1.6 per cent of the total amount of oxygen locked in our Sun – the lowest levels yet seen, beating the previous record by just a …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    I'm not an astrophysicist

    But shouldn't we normally expect to see very young galaxies like this one (10e6 years old?) right out at the edge of observable space and not a mere half a billion light years away? Did I miss something important in the article, or just read it wrong?

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: I'm not an astrophysicist

      Sort of, yes. The boffins remarked that the galaxy must have formed recently out of primordial gas. There is so much stuff in the regions between galaxies, some is still left over from the big bang (more or less).

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: I'm not an astrophysicist

        There is so much stuff in the regions between galaxies, some is still left over from the big bang (more or less).
        Indeed as was very recently discovered, about half of the universe's baryonic matter (i.e. that made up of the chemical elements) remains in the intergalactic medium.

  2. GraXXoR

    Are you sure?

    I was under the impression that first generation stars could form any material up to iron in their cores (if they’re large enough) during the later stages of their main sequence. (H He C O Ne Mg Si S Fe)

    It’s the materials heavier than iron created and ejected during earlier stars’ supernovae that become part of second generation stars and their planets.

    1. Richard Boyce

      Re: Are you sure?

      The materials in our planet and bodies are made from a lot of non-primordial elements or "metals" as astronomers use the term. If only elements heavier than iron got expelled into interstellar space, we wouldn't be here. There's a great deal of iron and nickel (hence our planet's core), but there's also plenty of the other elements you mentioned.

      Figuring out all the ways in which this happens is still being researched, I think. For example, apart from supernovas of large stars, there are also collisions.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Are you sure?

        On the subject of nucleosynthesis, here's something to tickle your noodle. Neutron star mergers, which we've only recently developed the technology to detect, are believed to be the major source of most of the heavy elements.

    2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Re: Are you sure?

      The galaxy is estimated to have been only 10 million years old - heavy stars that can form the heavier elements would not yet have reached the stage where they emit much material containing the heavier elements. (Even the supergiant Rigel at 8 million years old has not yet reached the stage where it emits large amounts of heavy elements - this will not occur until it goes supernova.)

      As the galaxy is a very low mass one, it may not have many (if any) supergiant stars - ordinary giant stars such as Sirus A have a life of hundreds of millions of years before they emit significant amounts of heavy elements.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "All I see are the lights of a billion places I'll never go"

    Thank you, Howard Tayler

  4. Mister Dubious

    Would have posted sooner, but I've been busy smelting metallic oxygen from its ores.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

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