August 19, 2009
Study: More stars exist than thought
Data from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer spacecraft may force astronomers to discard the assumption that stars of certain sizes form in certain quantities.
For decades, astronomers have believed the proportion of small to big stars was fixed. For every star 20 or more times as massive as the sun, for example, there should be 500 stars with the sun's mass or less.
What this paper is showing is that some of the standard assumptions that we've had -- that the brightest stars tell you about the whole population of stars -- this doesn't seem to work, at least not in a constant way, said Gerhardt Meurer, a Johns Hopkins University research scientist who led the study.
The research was published in the April 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.