Milky Way’s Ancient Globular Cluster Found

Much of space remains to be discovered. Our Solar System itself still has much that astronomers have not found. The Milky Way holds much mystery, with one possibly being uncovered recently, as an ancient globular cluster has been found that could be the key to knowing how the galaxy was formed.

The center of our galaxy contains old stars in it. Scientists have long speculated it but now these ancient stars have been seen for the first time. The ESO's VISTA telescope has been used to locate these stars, according to Science Today. The ancient stars are known as RR Lyrae.

Normally, the center of the Milky Way cannot be seen since it is blocked by dust. This dust is residue from the time the galaxy was formed. VISTA has infrared capabilities though that can penetrate this dust and see the center. What has been found are the RR Lyrae stars in star populations that are 10 billion years old. They are said to be some of the remains of ancient star clusters.

The discovery has been made by Dante Minniti of the Universidad Andres Bello in Chile. Working together with him is Rodrigo Contreras Ramos of the Instituto Milenio de Astrofisica, also in Chile. The observations have been made as part of the Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) ESO public survey, as the European Southern Observatory stated in its site. The survey has been done so as to search the central part of the Milky Way.

The RR Lyrae stars could be seen in dense globular clusters. Even though they are in clusters, seeing them could be a challenge as they are old stars and appear less bright than other stars around them. Some of them are obscured by dust as well. Looking for them in the center of the Milky Way can be challenging as the RR Lyrae stars there are surrounded by younger and brighter stars.

Contreras Ramos has explained that these stars are important as it could be evidence that the galactic bulges of galaxies might have happened as a result of several globular clusters coming together. If this is true for the Milky Way, then it might also be likely for other galaxies as well. 


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