Astronomers have published the most detailed survey of the Milky Way, which found thousands of starquakes and stellar DNA, and helped identify the most viable corners of our galaxy, writes the Guardian.
Observations of th European Space Agency’s Gaia Space Telescope cover nearly two billion stars – about 1% of the galaxy’s total. This allowed astronomers to recreate the structure of the Milky Way and find out how it evolved over billions of years.
Previous studies of the space telescope have shown in detail the movement of stars in our galaxy, which allowed us to simulate changes in it over time. Recent observations detail the chemical composition and temperature of stars, colors, mass, and age. Spectroscopy was used for measurements, when starlight was divided into waves of different lengths.
Unexpectedly, these observations revealed thousands of “starquakes” – tsunami-like cataclysms on the surface of the stars. According to one scientist, this can tell a lot about their inner work.
“Starquakes teach us a lot about stars – notably, their internal workings,” said Conny Aerts of KU Leuven in Belgium, who is a member of the Gaia collaboration. “Gaia is opening a goldmine for asteroseismology of massive stars.”
The composition of the stars can tell about the place of their birth and further travel, and help to unravel the history of the Milky Way. The earliest stars formed after the Big Bang contained only light elements of helium and hydrogen. They formed the first supernovae that enriched galaxies with metals and elements such as carbon and oxygen. Subsequent generations of stars added heavier elements.
Gaia found that some stars in our galaxy are made of primitive material, and others, like our Sun, are made of matter enriched by previous generations of stars. Stars closer to the center and plane of our galaxy are richer in metals than stars at greater distances.
Gaia also identified stars that originally came from galaxies other than ours based on their chemical composition.
So the chemical composition of a star is similar to DNA, which gives scientists critical information about its origin.