For a long time Terzan 5 has been known as a globular star cluster in the Milky Way. However that changed when a team of astronomers took a closer look at it. What they found is that the cluster contains two distinct types of stars that have a large age gap.
Researchers theorize that the presence of two types of stars in Terzan 5 means that the cluster had two periods of star formations. The age gap of the stars is about 7 billion years between the older ones and the newer stars there. What has made Terzan 5 remarkable is that it contains some of the oldest stars in our galaxy, making it a relic of how the Milky Way once was. Study of Terzan 5 could provide some answers on how our galaxy has been formed.
Terzan 5 is about 19,000 light years away from the Earth, according to Science Daily. Through careful observation and analysis using the Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera on the Hubble Space telescope, the team led by Dr. Francesco Ferraro from the University of Bologna, Italy has concluded that Terzan 5 isn't like any other globular cluster found.
The oldest stars in Terzan 5 are about 12 billion years old while the younger ones are about 4.5 billion years old. Unlike in other star formations, Terzan 5 had two bursts of star-forming activities. It is possible that the globular cluster has a large amount of stock material to draw from in order to have a second burst of star formation.
"We think that some remnants of these gaseous clumps could reamin relatively undisrupted and keep existing embedded within the galaxy," Dr. Ferarro explained. He sees these as galactic fossils wherein astronomers could study to find out how our galaxy has been formed.
The properties found in Terzan 5 resemble that which can be found in the galactic bulge, which is near the center of the galaxy and where many of the oldest stars in our galaxy can be found, as Phys Org notes. Terzan 5 though has managed to preserve this despite not being near the galactic bulge.
With this analysis astronomers could take a closer look at Terzan 5 and somehow solve some of the mysteries of galaxy.