Ancient Stars Spotted In The Center Of The Milky Way For The First Time (Video)

First Posted: Oct 14, 2016 03:27 AM EDT

Scientists discovered ancient stars in the center of Milky Way using the ESO's infrared VISTA telescope. They are known as RR Lyrae, which exist in ancient stellar populations for more than 10 billion years old, and were seen for the first time.

The research will be printed in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. It was led by Rodrigo Contreras-Ramos from Instituto Milenio de Astrofisica, Santiago, Chile and Dante Minniti from Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago Chile. The study indicates that the full center of the Milky Way likely expanded throughout the integration of the ancient star clusters. These primeval stars could be even the remains of the most massive and oldest star cluster of the whole Milky Way, according to Science Daily.

RR Lyraes are periodic variable stars that are found in globular clusters. They are aging stars of spectral class A or F and have a mass of around half's the Sun. They are used as standard candles that gauge the (extra) galactic distances. These stars are applied in globular cluster studies and used to examine the chemical properties of oldest stars.

In the study, the researchers utilized the VISTA infrared survey telescope to observe and investigate the central part of the Milky Way. They were able to get a clear view of the center of the Milky Way and discovered about a dozen ancient RR Lyrae stars, which were unknown in the past.

Rodrigo Contreras-Ramos explained that the discovery of RR Lyrae Stars in the center of the Milky Way has significant implications for the formation of galactic nuclei. He further explained that the evidence supports the scenario in which the nuclear bulge was originally made out of a few globular clusters that unified.


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