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article imageMilky Way ancient stars born in other galaxies in violent impact

By Andrew Moran     Jul 2, 2010 in Science
A new study has found that many of the ancient stars in our Milky Way galaxy actually came from smaller galaxies that were torn apart in violent cosmic collisions approximately 5 billion years ago.
According to the basic laws of quantum physics, the light of our closest star, Alpha Centauri, takes about 4.3 years to reach Earth (in Stephen Hawking’s book “A Brief of History of Time,” he says it takes 7 years) so imagine how long it would take for a star’s light at the edge of our galaxy to arrive at our planet.
A study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society suggests that ancient stars in our galaxy were actually born in smaller galaxies that were torn apart by gravitational forces generated by colliding galaxies about 5 billion years ago, according to Space.
The study, which was conducted by a team at the Durham University and researchers at Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Germany, and Groningen University, Holland, was done through large computer simulations that recreated the beginning of our galaxy.
United Press International reports that the ancient stars were found in a stellar halo of debris surrounding the galaxy.
Scientists concluded that the universe was full of smaller galaxies in its beginning, however, majority of them were short and violent because they all collided with each other. They then left galaxies like the Milky Way.
“Effectively we became galactic archaeologists, hunting out the likely sites where ancient stars could be scattered around the galaxy. Our simulations show how different relics in the Galaxy today, like these ancient stars, are related to events in the distant past,” said head author Andrew Cooper, reports One India.
“Like ancient rock strata that reveal the history of Earth, the stellar halo preserves a record of a dramatic primeval period in the life of the Milky Way which ended long before the Sun was born.”
More about Milky galaxy, Ancient stars, Cosmic collision
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