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New Evidence On Milky Way Origin

Eric Parra |
January 21, 2014 | 9:35 p.m. PST

Tech Editor

The Milky Way may be full of mysteries, but it is our home.(nakedscitentists/creativecommons)
The Milky Way may be full of mysteries, but it is our home.(nakedscitentists/creativecommons)
Consider this: the Milky Way consists of plenty of planets, stars, and gasses of all varieties, and yet no one can say for sure just how or when they all showed up. But if you would hazard a guess, would you assume that the Milky Way started to form a cluster from outward in or the other way around?

With the help of new technology, some older theories have started to come into light that may have you reconsider the formation of the Milky Way. 

From Phys.org:

“By tracking the fast-produced elements, specifically magnesium in this study, astronomers can determine how rapidly different parts of the Milky Way were formed. The research suggests that stars in the inner regions of the Galactic disc were the first to form, supporting ideas that our Galaxy grew from the inside-out.”

Essentially, what gives our deliciously named galaxy its ‘flying saucer’ shape can be proven by how quickly the collection of gas clouds and stars were formed and how close they were when they joined forces.

The science can easily get technical, but the bulk of the data comes from one of the largest telescopes in the world, an 8-m VLT in Chile. After getting in-depth observations, the “metallicity” of various stars (the amount of chemical elements aside from hydrogen and helium) was determined to figure out their age.

SEE ALSO: Billions Of Planets Wander Alone In Milky Way

UPI says, “older stars inside the Solar Circle -- the orbit of our sun around the center of the Milky Way, which takes roughly 250 million years to complete -- are far more likely to have high levels of magnesium, suggesting this area contained more stars that "lived fast and died young" in the past.”

Older stars are originally believed to have consisted entirely of hydrogen and helium, with “contaminant metals growing over time, so the older stars should have less of these elements and make it easier to figure out how long ago they originated.

The release of the Gaia-ESO project is what has made the development of the project more prominent and will continue to further research the age-metallicity relation.

Read more on the story here.


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