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STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Study: Star formation peaked, in decline
by Staff Writers
Leiden, Netherlands (UPI) Nov 6, 2012


disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

An international team of astronomers says it has found the rate of formation of new stars in the universe is only 1/30th of its peak and is in ongoing decline.

In their study, scientists led by David Sobral of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands used telescopes in three parts of the world to carry out the most complete survey ever made of star-forming galaxies at different distances.

The study produced about 10 times the data of any previous effort and allowed the team to assess the rate at which stars are being born.

Their data shows the production of stars in the universe as a whole has been continuously declining over the last 11 billion years, being 30 times lower today than at its likely peak 11 billion years ago.

"You might say that the universe has been suffering from a long, serious 'crisis': Cosmic GDP output is now only 3 percent of what it used to be at the peak in star production!" Sobral said.

"If the measured decline continues, then no more than 5 percent more stars will form over the remaining history of the cosmos, even if we wait forever. The research suggests that we live in a universe dominated by old stars.

"The future may seem rather dark, but we're actually quite lucky to be living in a healthy, star-forming galaxy which is going to be a strong contributor to the new stars that will form," he said of our own Milky Way Galaxy.

The findings have been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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