An international team of researchers have spotted the most fuel-efficient galaxy yet, which converts nearly 100 percent of its hydrogen gas into stars.
Six billion or so light years from here, there's a galaxy that seems to take seriously the old Lakota maxim about using the whole buffalo.
Except by "use" we mean "form stars out of" and by "buffalo" we mean "interstellar hydrogen gas."
Hydrogen gas is the fuel that galaxies use to make new stars, and most galaxies are the equivalent of a Hummer with a broken oxygen sensor, four flat tires, and a buffalo carcass strapped to the roof. Most of the gas meant to transport you gets wasted. But a new study has spotted a galaxy that is converting gas into stars at a rate hundreds of times that of our galaxy with almost 100 percent efficiency.
An international team of scientists looked at data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and spotted a galaxy that was just blazing with infrared radiation, equivalent, they say, to a trillion suns. Observations from the Hubble telescope confirmed that the galaxy, which is affectionately known as SDSSJ1506+54, is extremely compact, with most of the infrared light pouring from an area that is a fraction of the size of our own Milky Way.