Young Stars Are Missing From Milky Way Center, Astronomers Reveal

Posted: Aug 2 2016, 10:07pm CDT | by , Updated: Aug 2 2016, 10:13pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Young Stars are Missing from Milky Way Center, Astronomers Reveal
An artist's impression of the implied distribution of young stars. Credit: The University of Tokyo

An international team of astronomers have found that a large region around the center of our galaxy Milky Way hardly contains young stars

An international team of astronomers have found that a huge region around the center of our galaxy Milky Way is devoid of young stars. To astronomers, this is a surprise, given that the center of Milky Way must have been filled with young stars like the rest of the space farbic. Having few or no young stars is a baffling mystery for scientists.

Galaxy Milky Way harbors billions of stars, both young and old and mapping the distribution of these stars is crucial to understand the formation and evolution of our galaxy.

Stars come in different sizes, colors and types but Cepheids, also called Cepheid Variables, are the ones mostly looked for understanding the evolution of the objects. Cepheids are young stars with maximum age of 300 million years compared to our Sun which is 4.6 billion years old. These stars can also brighten and dim periodically, making them an ideal candidate for being used as a cosmic yardstick to measure the distances of the objects tens of millions of light years.

These stars can help establish the age of other stars in the universe. But locating Cepheids is itself a big challenge as these pulsating stars are obscured by interstellar dust prevailing in the outer space. To peer through this thick layer of dust and to see if any of those stars are existing in the region around Milky Way, researchers made near infrared observations using Japanese-South African telescope located at Sutherland, South Africa and they were surprise to find that there is virtually no Cepheid in a huge region stretching for thousands of light years from the core of the Galaxy.

“We already found some while ago that there are Cepheids in the central heart of our Milky Way (in a region about 150 light years in radius). Now we find that outside this there is a huge Cepheid desert extending out to 8000 light years from the centre.” Lead researcher Prof Noriyuki Matsunaga of the University of Tokyo said.

These findings remind us the cosmos is still rife with tantalizing secrets and may be a major revision is needed to better understand our galaxy Milky Way.

Co-author of the study, Giuseppe Bono, says. “The current results indicate that there has been no significant star formation in this large region over hundreds of millions years. The movement and the chemical composition of the new Cepheids are helping us to better understand the formation and evolution of the Milky Way.”

The study was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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