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Space & Astronomy

Stellar desert discovered in the Milky Way

By T.K. Randall
August 3, 2016 · Comment icon 5 comments

Why are there so few new stars near the galaxy's center ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Andrew Xu
A vast expanse of space totally devoid of new stars has been found at the heart of our own galaxy.
This extensive stellar void, which covers a region of space over 8,000 light years across, was discovered by Noriyuki Matsunaga and his team of astronomers at the University of Tokyo.

The researchers had been looking for Cepheids - very young stars that are particularly easy to detect because they typically pulsate in a predictable pattern.
Using a special infra-red telescope to peer through the interstellar dust blocking our view of the inner-most regions of the Milky Way, Matsunaga and his team found to their surprise that these Cepheids were actually very sparse in this area - far more so than anyone had realized.

While they found evidence of young stars in a region approximately 150 light years in radius, the expanse of space beyond this, which stretched for 8,000 light years, had no Cepheids in it at all.

It seemed that no new stars had formed there for hundreds of millions of years.

Source: Gizmodo | Comments (5)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 8 years ago
Cosmic entropy? Maybe aliens cloaking their home solar system so we won't visit.  Galacticus?  I hope it can't start heading this way.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Sundew 8 years ago
I guess this should not be too surprising, the universe or even our galaxy is not homogenous in nature with evenly spaced stars. If there are denser regions (and that's obvious) it should be no surprise there are voids as well. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Harte 8 years ago
The mapping is the most interesting thing about this. The Cepheid-less space the article is reports on is not just a random region. It's like a highly symmetric disk with the galactic center at the center. However, the source article says: I don't see how they can tell this if they are only detecting Cepheids. I think this may be a journalistic error. Harte  
Comment icon #4 Posted by Ell 8 years ago
We must conclude that stars in that region age rather quickly. We can then predict that the further from the center of that region, the less quickly stars age and the higher the relative number of Cepheis will be.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Harte 8 years ago
This prediction falls apart rather quickly when one looks at the distribution of Cepheids in the Milky Way - the mapping I referred to previously. Harte


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