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Milky Way – scientists conducted the most detailed study of our galaxy and found unusual stars

Astronomers using the Gaia telescope conducted the most detailed study of the Milky Way to date. As a result, they were able to obtain data on “starquakes”, “stellar DNA” and other impressive features of our galaxy, informs European Space Agency.

It is noted that in the course of the study, scientists obtained data on almost two billion stars in the Milky Way. They cataloged information about their chemical composition, temperature, colors, mass, age, and the speed at which stars move towards or away from us.

Read also: The first photo of the shadow of a black hole in the center of the Milky Way

Much of the data came from spectroscopy, a technique that separates starlight into its component colors (like a rainbow). The data also includes special subsets of stars, such as those that change in brightness over time.

ESA/Gaia/DPAC

ESA/Gaia/DPAC

In addition, the new catalog also contains information on binary systems, thousands of objects such as asteroids and planetary satellites, as well as millions of galaxies and quasars outside the Milky Way.

One of the biggest surprises for scientists was that Gaia can detect “starquakes” – tiny movements on the surface of stars that change their shape. Initially, the observatory was not intended for such studies.

Previously, Gaia has already been able to detect radial oscillations that cause stars to periodically swell and contract while maintaining their spherical shape. But now the observatory has also noticed other vibrations that look more like large-scale tsunamis. These non-radial fluctuations change the overall shape of the star and are therefore harder to detect.

The researchers noticed “starquakes” on tens of thousands of stars, including those that were rarely observed before. According to existing hypotheses, “starquakes” should not be observed on these stars, but Gaia nevertheless recorded them.

In addition, the observatory has compiled the largest chemical map of a galaxy to date, combined with three-dimensional stellar movements, in the Milky Way as well as neighboring galaxies.

Some stars contain more heavy metals than others. After the Big Bang, only light elements such as hydrogen and helium existed. The rest of the heavier elements, which scientists call metals, formed inside stars. When stars die, they eject these metals into the cosmic environment, in which new stars are formed.

Active star formation and star death lead to a more metal-rich environment. That is, the chemical composition of a star is a bit like its DNA and can tell about its origin.

With the help of Gaia, scientists have found that some of the stars in our galaxy are made of primordial material, while others, like the Sun, are made of matter enriched by previous generations of stars. Stars that are closer to the plane of the Milky Way are richer in metals than stars at greater distances. In addition, astronomers have also discovered stars that were born in other galaxies.

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