Stars are like cosmic factories that produce complex elements in the Universe. They’re like big, hot blobs of gas that fuse atoms together in their cores, creating larger atoms. And when they finally die, they go out with a bang, spewing their stardust all over the place. It’s like they’re throwing the Universe’s biggest and most colorful party before they check out. But their explosive demise is actually a good thing because it’s what makes the Universe interesting and varied. Without them, we’d be stuck with nothing but boring hydrogen gas.
Thanks to a new study that ScienceAlert tells us about, we find out that our Milky Way galaxy might be more active when it comes to star formation than astronomers initially thought.
A much more active Milky Way
A new analysis of gamma rays from the most energetic light in the galaxy has challenged current estimates of star formation rates in the Milky Way. The study shows that stars may actually be forming at a rate of four to eight times the mass of the Sun per year, which is two to four times more than current estimates. This suggests that the Milky Way is more active than previously thought and has implications for understanding the evolution of our galaxy and others.
Researchers led by astrophysicist Thomas Siegert used aluminum-26, a radioactive isotope produced during star formation, to estimate the rate at which stars form and die in the Milky Way. Their findings show promise for a better understanding of how new stars are made in our galaxy.
According to previous estimations of astronomers and generally accepted information within the scientific community, there are between 100 billion and 200 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy.
The new study has appeared in arXiv.