/Graveyard of ancient stars uncovered in the Milky Way

Graveyard of ancient stars uncovered in the Milky Way

Key idea: The Milky Way galaxy has a graveyard of dead stars that stretches three times the height of the galaxy, according to new research. 

Original author and publication date: Ashley Strickland (CNN) – October 10, 2022

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: It will happen millions and millions of years into the future, but one day our Sun will also be in a graveyard for dead stars.

From the article:   

Astronomers found the ancient stellar remnants when they mapped this “galactic underworld” for the first time.

Our galaxy, which formed about 13 billion years ago, has been the home of billions of stars. Over time, many of these massive objects have collapsed into dense remnants.

When a star more than eight times larger than the sun burns through its elements and collapses, the outer layers of the star explode in a supernova. Meanwhile, the stellar core condenses into either a neutron star or black hole.

Modern neutron stars and black holes formed in the Milky Way are easier to spot because they stay within our galaxy and conform to its shape. But the ancient stars that existed in the young, evolving Milky Way galaxy were like stellar ghosts when the researchers tried to find them.

The very supernova explosions that triggered the collapse of the stars actually kicked them out into interstellar space. Researchers determined that 30% of those stellar remnants have been kicked out of the galaxy completely, according to their study published in the latest issue of the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The research team was able to map where the stellar remains rest within and around our galaxy by recreating the life cycle of the ancient stars.

“One of the problems for finding these ancient objects is that, until now, we had no idea where to look,” said study coauthor Peter Tuthill, professor at the School of Physics and director of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy at The University of Sydney in Australia, in a statement.

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