Milky Way’s Heart Is A Desolate Place, Here's Why

First Posted: Aug 03, 2016 05:54 AM EDT

The center of a galaxy is usually deemed as a place crowded with stars, unless it is an area next to the black hole near the core. However, a recent research suggests that the inner sanctum of the Milky Way is an area that is nearly devoid of young stars, which questions our views of galactic origin and formation and how things will evolve eventually.

Noriyoki Matsunaga, professor at the University of Tokyo conducted a research about Cepheid variables, which are super enormous stars that pulse in brightness on a regular basis, in the inner Milky Way. As per reports, the Cepheid variables are immensely helpful in knowing more about the Universe because the measurement of the length of their cycle helps in estimating how bright they truly are, which in turn helps in calculating their distance that has been helpful in helping scientists measure the scale of the Milky Way as well as nearby galaxies.

Surprisingly, Matsunaga found no Cepheid variables within 8,000 light years of the Milky Way's core on searching for their wavelength through the infrared Japanese-South African telescope. The result was reportedly strange because last year researchers from the same team detected an abundance of Cepheids in a disk formation within the Milky Way's central bulge, though in a distance of about 250 light-years from the center. "We already found some awhile ago that there are Cepheids in the central heart of our Milky Way (in a region about 150 light-years in radius)," Noriyoki Matsunaga said. "Now we find that outside this there is a huge Cepheid desert extending out to 8,000 light-years from the center."

According to Matsunaga's research, the absence of Cepheids imply a general shortage of young stars that fall in the age group of 10 to 300 million years old and classified as Type 1, which means that no major star formation took place in the region for more than hundreds of millions of years. For now, as per researchers, it is still a mystery why stars stopped forming in the inner galaxy and finding the cause may need a rethinking of the processes that take place in the Milky Way's heart, which seems like a desolate place.

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