JWST has spotted a weird, distant galaxy with almost no heavy elements

Galaxies in the distant universe are expected to have fewer heavy elements than nearby ones, but the James Webb Space Telescope has found a surprising one with almost none at all


1 August 2022

Heavy elements are formed in the centres of stars

Lukasz Szczepanski/Alamy

There is a strange, metal-poor galaxy lurking in the distant universe. The very first image released by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) team revealed a galaxy with far fewer heavy elements than we would expect, which might mean that it’s sucking up pristine hydrogen gas from intergalactic space.

Mirko Curti at the University of Cambridge and his colleagues examined the light from three galaxies shown in JWST’s first deep-field image to measure the abundance of elements that astronomers …

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