Ultra-sharp images make old stars look absolutely marvelous!

ScienceDaily | 3/26/2019 | Staff
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Just as high-definition imaging is transforming home entertainment, it is also advancing the way astronomers study the Universe.

"Ultra-sharp adaptive optics images from the Gemini Observatory allowed us to determine the ages of some of the oldest stars in our Galaxy," said Leandro Kerber of the Universidade de São Paulo and Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Brazil. Kerber led a large international research team that published their results in the April 2019 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Optics - Technology - Gemini - South - Telescope

Using advanced adaptive optics technology at the Gemini South telescope in Chile, the researchers zoomed in on a cluster of stars known as HP 1. "Removing our atmosphere's distortions to starlight with adaptive optics reveals tremendous details in the objects we study," added Kerber. "Because we captured these stars in such great detail, we were able to determine their advanced age and piece together a very compelling story."

That story begins just as the Universe was reaching its one-billionth birthday.

Star - Cluster - Fossil - Galaxy - Bulge

"This star cluster is like an ancient fossil buried deep in our Galaxy's bulge, and now we've been able to date it to a far-off time when the Universe was very young," said Stefano Souza, a PhD student at the Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, who worked with Kerber as part of the research team. The team's results date the cluster at about 12.8 billion years, making these stars among the oldest ever found in our Galaxy. "These are also some of the oldest stars we've seen anywhere," added Souza.

"HP 1 is one of the surviving members of the fundamental building blocks that assembled our Galaxy's inner bulge," said Kerber. Until a few years ago, astronomers believed that the oldest globular star clusters -- spherical swarms of up to a million stars -- were only located in the outer parts of the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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