A Star as Old as the Universe Found in Milky Way — A Galactic Mystery


Source: DailyGalaxy.com, April 26, 2011
[News From Behind the Scenes, Tuesday, May 3, 2011 @ 6:40 PM]

“This star likely is almost as old as the universe itself.”

Anna Frebel, astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Astronomers have discovered a relic from the early universe — a star that may have been among the second generation of stars to form after the Big Bang. Located in the dwarf galaxy Sculptor some 290,000 light-years away, the star has a remarkably similar chemical make-up to the Milky Way’s oldest stars. Its presence supports the theory that our galaxy underwent a “cannibal” phase, growing to its current size by swallowing dwarf galaxies and other galactic building blocks.

Dwarf galaxies are small galaxies with just a few billion stars, compared to hundreds of billions in the Milky Way. In the “bottom-up model” of galaxy formation, large galaxies attained their size over billions of years by absorbing their smaller neighbors.

“If you watched a time-lapse movie of our galaxy, you would see a swarm of dwarf galaxies buzzing around it like bees around a beehive,” explained Frebel. “Over time, those galaxies smashed together and mingled their stars to make one large galaxy — the Milky Way.” Continue reading “A Star as Old as the Universe Found in Milky Way — A Galactic Mystery”