NGC1277 – relic galaxy of the ancient universe

Where can I find ancient galaxies that have not changed the structure almost from the moment they were formed? Surely, they should be sought on the edge of the universe. But, as it turned out, such objects can be found near our Milky Way. NGC1277 is one of these unique conserved galaxies, and thanks to it we will be able to learn more about the structure of young galaxies in the early life of the universe.

NGC 1277 Galaxy is the track of the early Universe | NASA

It is believed that galaxies began to form as follows: a huge gas-dust cloud was compressed under the influence of gravity, new stars were lit – because of the large amount of “building material” this happened thousands of times faster than in our days.

After the explosive tempo of the formation of new stars came a period of calm: the galaxy slowly assembles extragalactic objects located in outer space, increases in size, new star systems are slowly created. At this stage of “adult life” are all nearby galaxies, except NGC1277.

According to astronomers, star formation in it ceased about 10 billion years ago, when the reserves of its own gas-dust cloud depleted. And in the outer space there was no matter for the continued growth of NGC1277, so it “mothballed” when it reached us in the “childish” age and shows what all galaxies were 1.5 billion years after the big bang.

It’s amazing, that such a galaxy is located very close to us – just 200 million light years from Earth. Other early galaxies are at the very edge of the Visible Universe, so even though their light reaches us, it is not possible to study their stellar structure for modern technology. Unlike NGC1277, in which all the globular clusters of stars that appeared during the explosive stage of their formation are visible.

Finding such an early galaxy will help scientists expand the understanding of the structure of the young Universe and, possibly, answer a number of long-standing questions of interest: for example, how much dark matter is in the galaxy at the early stages of its existence.