New Milky Way Component Discovered With ESO VISTA Telescope

First Posted: Oct 30, 2015 10:07 AM EDT

Researchers have discovered a new component of the Milky Way. After assessing data that was collected using the European Southern Observatory's VISTA telescope, the researchers found the unknown component in the Milky Way, according to a study.

"The central bulge of the Milky Way is thought to consist of vast numbers of old stars. But the VISTA data has revealed something new and very young by astronomical standards," said Istvan Dekany, lead author of the new study from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in a news release.

The VISTA telescope was used at the Paranal Observatory to take images during different times of the galaxy's infrared wavelengths, where large numbers of stars, clusters, exploding stars and new objects were discovered.

After analyzing the data the researchers found 655 variable star types called Cepheids, which expands and takes a few day to a few months to complete a cycle and in changing their brightness.

By studying and mapping the complex features of the Cepheids, the researchers found that an entirely new component in the Milky Way, which is a thin disc of young stars across the galactic bulge. The new component remains unknown to researchers and was invisible in previous studies, as it was covered behind thick clouds of dust, according to the researchers.

"This study is a powerful demonstration of the unmatched capabilities of the VISTA telescope for probing extremely obscured galactic regions that cannot be reached by any other current or planned surveys," said Dekany.

This area of the galaxy was unknown to scientists until now. Researchers are still investigating the origination of the Cepheids and as to whether they were born close to where they are now or if they were further out.

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