Astronomers identify the 'poor old heart' of the Milky Way

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  • A team of researchers locates a population of stars that formed more than 12,500 million years ago

  • This discovery has been possible thanks to the Gaia mission of the European Space Agency

Astronomers identify the "poor old heart" of the Milky Way

A team of researchers from the The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), located in Germany, has identified the “poor old heart of the Milky Way” According to the words of astronomers, in the central regions of our galaxy. This peculiar term is the one that researchers have used to refer to a population of starsThey formed in the early history of the Milky Way, more than 12.5 billion years ago. The detection of these stars, as well as as well as the properties that were observed, corroborate cosmological simulations of the earliest history of our galaxy. According to the researchers of the study, these simulations predicted where the ancient stars could be found.

This discovery was made possible thanks to the Gaia mission, from the Space Agency. European,which has allowed astronomers to analyze the latest information from the agency and use a neural network to extract the metallicity of two million bright giant stars in the inner regions of our galaxy. In this particular case, the neural network was trained using using selected Gaia spectra as input: Gaia spectra for which the correct answer, metallicity, was already known from another study. The neural network succeeded. he even deduced precise and exact metallicities of stars he had never encountered before.

Metallicity is the amount of chemical elements heavier than helium that the star's atmosphere contains. This is the methodology that is followed to determine the age of the star: the lower the metallicity, the older it will be. the star.

The distances provided by Gaia through the parallax method (a mathematical technique that makes it possible to calculate distances between the earth and other celestial bodies) have allowed a 3D reconstruction that shows those stars confined within a comparatively small region around them. from the center, approximately 30,000 light-years across.

The distances provided by Gaia (via the parallax method) allow a 3D reconstruction showing those stars. They are confined within a comparatively small region around the center, approximately 30,000 light-years in diameter.

But despite the fact that the information obtained thanks to the analysis of the While the Gaia data is groundbreaking – it demonstrates the existence of the “heart” of the Milky Way – this discovery raises new questions. One of them is to what? Each of the stars in this central region belongs to the parent galaxy of the Milky Way. Question that the researchers hope to solve in the future.