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Astronomers Discovered That A Large Group Of Stars Are Dying Prematurely

First Posted: May 20, 2016 05:51 AM EDT
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Researchers from Monash University have discovered that large numbers of helium burning stars are dying prematurely in the M4 globular cluster. They have used the new advancements in Australian telescope technology.

Science Daily reports that the study was printed in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The study was led by Ben Maclean, Ph.D. student from Monash University. It was supervised by Dr. Gayandhi De Silva from the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) and the University of Sydney, Professor John Lattanzio and Dr. Simon Campbell from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics

M4 is one of the brightest and closest globular clusters that have been very well studied. Professor Lattanzio said that globular clusters are some of the oldest objects in the Universe. They have some ideas for what is going on in them, every time they research about them they find something unexpected. He further said that they are both fascinating and frustrating at the same time.

The researchers used the HERMES or the high efficiency and resolution multi-element spectrograph. With the use of this device, they were able to recognize the composition of stars in M4 that led to a startling discovery, according to Red Orbit.

They found out that about half of the stars verge to skip the Red Giant phase. They instead become White Dwarfs millions of years ahead of schedule. They didn't know the cause of this premature dying of the stars. Meanwhile, the HERMES chemical analysis showed that the premature death happens in the sodium-rich/oxygen-poor stars. They were also surprised by the discovery that the best models of these stars do not expect that they will die young.

Dr. Campbell who was surprised on the findings said that although the phenomenon of sodium-rich stars failing to reach old age has been seen in their previous research, it was totally unexpected that it should occur on such a scale in this normal star cluster.

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