Tags: star desert | milky way | galaxy

Star Desert in Milky Way Shows How Galaxy May Have Formed

Image: Star Desert in Milky Way Shows How Galaxy May Have Formed

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By    |   Thursday, 04 Aug 2016 11:28 AM

A "star desert" has been discovered near the center of the Milky Way, possibly affecting theories of how the galaxy was formed.

Astronomers from Italy, Japan, and South Africa detailed their surprise discovery in a study that was originally published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

A statement released by the Royal Astronomical Society on Monday said the ability to measure the distribution of Milky Way stars is important to figuring out how the galaxy formed. Researchers found "hardly any" pulsating stars, called Cepheids, in a region of the Milky Way spanning thousands of light years near its core, even after using an analysis of near-infrared observations.

"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]," Noriyuki Matsunaga, an astronomer at the University of Tokyo, said in the Royal Astronomical Society statement.

"Now we find that outside this there is a huge Cepheid desert extending out to 8,000 light-years from the center," Matsunaga continued.

The discovery suggests that there is a portion of the galaxy, called the Extreme Inner Disk, that has no young stars.

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

According to Space.com, the Milky Way galaxy spans 100,000 light-years across and is in constant rotation. Within it, our solar system travels at an average speed of 515,000 miles per hour.

Astronomer Michael Feast, another co-author, said the discovery of the star desert puts a different spin on the Milky Way's story.

"Our conclusions are contrary to other recent work, but in line with the work of radio astronomers who see no new stars being born in this desert," he said.

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A "star desert" has been discovered near the center of the Milky Way, possibly affecting theories of how the galaxy was formed.
star desert, milky way, galaxy
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2016-28-04
Thursday, 04 Aug 2016 11:28 AM
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