24/7 Space News
Astronomers determine the age of three mysterious baby stars at the heart of the Milky Way
SPX stock illustration only
Astronomers determine the age of three mysterious baby stars at the heart of the Milky Way
by Staff Writers
Lund, Sweden (SPX) Dec 06, 2023

Through analysis of high-resolution data from a ten-metre telescope in Hawaii, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have succeeded in generating new knowledge about three stars at the very heart of the Milky Way. The stars proved to be unusually young with a puzzling chemical composition that surprised the researchers.

The study, which has been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, examined a group of stars located in the nuclear star cluster that makes up the heart of the galaxy. It concerns three stars that are difficult to study because they are extremely far away from our solar system, and hidden behind enormous clouds of dust and gas that block out light. The fact that the area is also full of stars makes it very complicated to discern individual stars.

In a previous study, the researchers put forward a hypothesis that these specific stars in the middle of the Milky Way could be unusually young.

"We can now confirm this. In our study we have been able to date three of these stars as relatively young, at least as far as astronomers are concerned, with ages of 100 million to about 1 billion years. This can be compared with the sun, which is 4.6 billion years old," says Rebecca Forsberg, researcher in astronomy at Lund University.

The nuclear star cluster has mainly been seen, quite rightly, as a very ancient part of the galaxy. But the researchers' new discovery of such young stars indicates that there is also active star formation going on in this ancient component of the Milky Way. However, dating stars 25,000 light years from Earth is not something that can be done in a hurry.

The researchers used high-resolution data from the Keck II telescope in Hawaii, one of the world's largest telescopes with a mirror ten metres in diameter. For further verification, they then measured how much of the heavy element, iron, the stars contained. The element is important for tracing the galaxy's development, as the theories the astronomers have about how stars are formed and galaxies develop indicate that young stars have more of the heavy elements, as heavy elements are formed to an increasing extent over time in the universe.

To determine the level of iron, the astronomers observed the stars' spectra in infrared light which, compared with optical light, are parts of the light spectrum that can more easily shine through the densely dust-laden parts of the Milky Way. It was shown that the iron levels varied considerably, which surprised the researchers.

"The very wide spread of iron levels could indicate that the innermost parts of the galaxy are incredibly inhomogeneous, i.e. unmixed. This is something we had not expected and not only says something about how the centre of the galaxy appears, but also how the early universe may have looked," says Brian Thorsbro, researcher in astronomy at Lund University.

The study sheds significant light on our understanding of the early universe and the functioning of the very centre of the Milky Way. The results may also be of benefit to inspire continued and future explorations of the heart of the galaxy, as well as the further development of models and simulations of the formation of galaxies and stars.

"Personally, I think it is very exciting that we can now study the very centre of our galaxy with such a high level of detail. These types of measurements have been standard for observations of the galactic disc where we are located, but have beenunreachable goal for more faraway and exotic parts of the galaxy. We can learn a lot about how our home galaxy was formed and developed from such studies," concludes Rebecca Forsberg.

In addition to Lund University, the following organisations and higher education institutions participated in the study: Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur, the University of Tokyo, Observatoire de Paris, the University of California Los Angeles, and Miyagi University of Education.

Research Report:A Wide Metallicity Range for Gyr-old Stars in the Nuclear Star Cluster

Related Links
Lund University
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
Dark galactic region nicknamed "The Brick" explained with Webb telescope findings
Gainesville FL (SPX) Dec 05, 2023
In a recent study led by University of Florida astronomer Adam Ginsburg, groundbreaking findings shed light on a mysterious dark region at the center of the Milky Way. The turbulent gas cloud, playfully nicknamed "The Brick" due to its opacity, has sparked lively debates within the scientific community for years. To decipher its secrets, Ginsburg and his research team, including UF graduate students Desmond Jeff, Savannah Gramze, and Alyssa Bulatek, turned to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). ... read more

NASA Stennis Achieves Major Milestone for In-Flight Software Mission

Was going to space a good idea

Lost tomato found aboard International Space Station after eight months

Chandrayaan-3 Propulsion Module Successfully Transitions from Lunar to Earth Orbit

Professionals Satellite YPSat Ready for Electromagnetic Compatibility Testing

KAIST Partners with Rocket Lab for NeonSat-1 Launch

NASA identifies probable reason for OSIRIS-REx capsule parachute deployment issue

An incredible pace of SpaceX launch cadence continues with the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket

Mapping Mars: Deep Learning Could Help Identify Jezero Crater Landing Site

How Rocks Say Don't Touch: Sols 4032-4034

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now: Sols 4028-4029

On The Road Again: Sols 4030-4031

CAS Space expands into Guangdong with new rocket engine testing complex

China's Lunar Samples on Display in Macao to Inspire Future Explorers

China Manned Space Agency Delegation Highlights SARs' Role in Space Program

Wenchang Set to Become China's Premier Commercial Space Launch Hub by Next Year

Iridium's New GMDSS Academy to Bolster Safety Training for Maritime Professionals

Embry-Riddle's Innovative Mission Control Lab prepares students for booming space sector

Ovzon and SSC close to sealing satellite communication contract worth $10M

A major boost for space skills and research in North East England

Rogue Space Systems lands inaugural on-orbit service contract

NASA Laser Reflecting Instruments to Help Pinpoint Earth Measurements

Magnetization by laser pulse

CityU develops universal metasurface antenna, advancing 6G communications

Ariel moves from drawing board to construction phase

Digging Deeper to Find Life on Ocean Worlds

Researchers Develop Advanced Algorithm Pandora for Exomoon Hunt

Shedding light on the synthesis of sugars before the origin of life

Unwrapping Uranus and its icy moon secrets

Juice burns hard towards first-ever Earth-Moon flyby

Fall into an ice giant's atmosphere

Juno finds Jupiter's winds penetrate in cylindrical layers

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.