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Metal-poor globular cluster forces astronomers to rethink theories

18 Oct 2020, 12:00 UTC
Metal-poor globular cluster forces astronomers to rethink theories
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An international team of scientists made an unusual discovery when they used extra observing time at Keck Observatory in Hawaii to take a quick look at a massive globular cluster in the galaxy next door, the Andromeda galaxy. The cluster is called RBC EXT8. Observations revealed it to be the most metal-poor globular cluster observed to date; that is, it lacks the “heavier” or more complex elements made inside stars as they move through their life cycles. Image via ESASky en CFHT/ Astronomie.nl.
Last week (October 15, 2020), an international team of scientists published a paper in the peer-reviewed journal Science, announcing the discovery of the most metal-poor globular star cluster recorded to date. Globular star clusters are giant, symmetrical star clusters found in the halos of galaxies. And when astronomers speak of “metals,” they’re not speaking a hard, shiny, solid material. They’re speaking of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, neon, iron and magnesium – any and all elements born inside stars – except hydrogen and helium, which were born in the Big Bang. The newly discovered metal-poor globular cluster was hanging out in plain view in M31, aka the Andromeda galaxy, the large spiral galaxy next door to our Milky Way. ...

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