The galaxy we’re zooming in on in the video above is LEDA 36252. It’s a tadpole galaxy 82 million lightyears away that has been steadily turning out new stars at an incredible rate for billions of years.
Tadpole galaxies are so rare that only 20 of them exist for every 10,000 galaxies in the universe. Once, though—somewhere in our universe’s murky beginnings—tadpole galaxies, with their incredible star-forming powers, were common.
The ones we still see, like LEDA 36252, are “living fossils,” mixing clusters of stars that date back billions of years with relatively new ones that formed in the last million or so. By studying its oldest clusters, scientists are able to trace the elements responsible for kicking-off ancient bursts of star formation. They can even map out where supernova explosions occurred in the galaxy, to get a better idea of the universe that once was.
Video by Mandy Mandelstein