The Milky Way is a giant, rapidly rotating galaxy. Every hour our solar system flies through 900 thousand kilometers of space.
Astronomers claim that the Milky Way left its old heart in the constellation Sagittarius. This is reported by Science News.
New data obtained by the Gaia spacecraft shows scientists where the primordial core of the galaxy resides, the older stellar population around which the rest of the Milky Way grew, formed more than 12.5 billion years ago.
“We have long assumed that such a giant cluster of old stars should be located somewhere in the center of the Milky Way, and now the Gaia apparatus has shown them to us,” said astronomer Hans-Walter Rix from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.
The Milky Way’s oldest heart is said to be a round protogalaxy spanning nearly 18,000 light-years and with a stellar mass roughly 100 million times that of the Sun, or about 0.2 percent of the Milky Way’s current stellar mass.
“The study gives us more information about the earliest stage of formation of the Milky Way. We have seen some glimpses of this stellar population before, but the new work allows us to capture it as if from a bird’s eye view,” says Vasyl Bilokurov, an astronomer from the University of Cambridge.
The experts also emphasized that stars from the center of the Milky Way are usually rich in metals, which appeared in large quantities due to the explosions of earlier populations of stars. Whereas the Ricks team wanted to find stars with a very low metal content, which could have appeared only at the beginning of the formation of the galaxy.
The result was a sample of 18,000 older stars, which became the nucleus around which the entire galaxy blossomed. Taking into account the stars hidden by the dust, Ricks estimates that the protogalaxy is 50 to 200 million times more massive than the Sun.
“This is the primary core of our galaxy,” the scientist explains.
It was previously reported that the James Webb telescope took the clearest picture of Neptune’s rings in more than 30 years.