Galaxy that gave rise to the Milky Way is discovered by the Gaia telescope

Galaxy that gave rise to the Milky Way is discovered by the Gaia telescope
Galaxy that gave rise to the Milky Way is discovered by the Gaia telescope

posted on 9/22/2022 4:57 PM / updated on 9/22/2022 4:58 PM


In the midst of a cluster of 2 million stars located in the region of the center of the Milky Way, there is the origin of the galaxy. The protogalaxy considered the “old and poor” heart of the star cluster is close to the constellation Sagittarius, which can be seen on the left. – (credit: TERENCE DICKINSON/ESA)

At the center of the Milky Way there is a “poor old heart” that gave rise to the great cluster of stars and, after 12.5 billion years, it still “beats” and stays alive. The discovery comes from scientists at the Max Plank Institute for Astronomy, who identified a protogalaxy that gave rise to the great powerful spiral that houses Earth, the Solar System and thousands of other systems.

Physicists explain: a galaxy of the magnitude of the Milky Way did not create itself. It becomes high-magnitude from a merging movement with other smaller galaxies — or, in the words of astronomers, a cannibalistic movement with several star clusters.

However, it takes a galaxy to start moving, and until then, this primary cluster of stars was out of sight of astronomers. In a study published by German scientists at the Max Plank Institute for Astronomy on September 7, the group gives the astronomy world good news: the heart of the Milky Way has been found — and it is old and “poor” in metals.

Using data obtained by the Gaia telescope, astronomers analyzed about 2 million stars in the region of the center of the galaxy, close to the region of the constellation Sagittarius, and identified 18,000 ancient stars that have characteristics to be as old as the predicted origin. of the Milky Way, 12.5 billion years old.

“People have long speculated that such a vast population (of ancient stars) must have existed at the center of our Milky Way, and Gaia now shows that there they are,” says astronomer Hans-Walter Rix of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. in Heidelberg, Germany.

To define whether the protogalaxy was the origin of the galaxy, the scientists analyzed them in depth. The first step was to assess whether they really were ancient stars — an order of stellar objects that are extremely metal-poor and predominantly composed of hydrogen and helium, considered to be less massive. The answer was positive: the 18,000 stars found: they have less than 3% of the Sun’s metal concentration.

Another step was to confirm whether the cluster of stars was original to the Milky Way or whether they belonged to other smaller galaxies, which may also harbor low-metal stars. The issue was solved by looking at the location of the stars — at the center of the galaxy — and identifying a different rotation process for the younger ones.

The group is at the galactic center cannot move in rotation with the other stellar objects, which reveals that it was in the region before the appearance of the Milky Way’s thick disk – the first of them – which caused the objects to make a movement of spiral rotation.

In the beginning, the Milky Way was not a spiral galaxy, it has turned into a “disk” galaxy and is currently rotating rapidly. Only the Solar System in which the Earth is, according to scientists, rushes through 900 thousand kilometers of space every hour. Therefore, the ancient stars found by scientists, which were at the beginning of the galaxy, cannot make the movement. Instead, they “dive in and out of the arms of the galaxy.”

Furthermore, the protogalaxy is at the “core” of the Milky Way and remains compact, meaning that it has remained intact since the beginning of the growth movement. It probably crashed into one galaxy and then stopped crashing into others.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Galaxy gave rise Milky discovered Gaia telescope

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