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Latest Metallicity Stories

The Star That Should Not Exist
2011-08-31 13:14:09

  A team of European astronomers has used ESO´s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to track down a star in the Milky Way that many thought was impossible. They discovered that this star is composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, with only remarkably small amounts of other chemical elements in it. This intriguing composition places it in the “forbidden zone” of a widely accepted theory of star formation, meaning that it should never have come into existence in the...

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2011-05-26 09:56:00

Cheryl Gundy, STSCI NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has found a rare class of oddball stars called blue stragglers in the hub of our Milky Way, the first detected within our galaxy's bulge. Blue stragglers are so named because they seemingly lag behind in the aging process, appearing younger than the population from which they formed. While they have been detected in many distant star clusters, and among nearby stars, they never have been seen inside the core of our galaxy. It is not clear how...

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2011-04-28 06:20:00

A new study found that the first stars in the universe were not only massive, but also fast-spinning. These stars died out long ago, but astronomers are able to see what they were like by looking at later generations of stars. Cristina Chiappini of the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam in Germany, and colleagues reanalyzed data from the Very Large Telescope of a 12-billion-year-old star cluster.  The team found high levels of metal in the stars. These levels suggest earlier generations...

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2010-12-08 07:05:00

A team of astronomers led by graduate student Naslim and her supervisor Dr Simon Jeffery from Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland has found what at first sight appears to be the most zirconium-rich star ever discovered. Zirconium, the material used by jewelers to make false diamonds, glitters in clouds above the star's surface. The scientists publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The team made the discovery while looking for chemical clues...

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2010-09-09 15:02:58

Bad news for planet hunters: most of the "hot Jupiters" that astronomers have been searching for in star clusters were likely destroyed long ago by their stars. In a paper accepted for publication by the Astrophysical Journal, John Debes and Brian Jackson of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., offer this new explanation for why no transiting planets (planets that pass in front of their stars and temporarily block some of the light) have been found yet in star clusters. The...

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2010-06-21 08:45:09

For the first time, a team of astronomers has succeeded in investigating the earliest phases of the evolutionary history of our home Galaxy, the Milky Way. The scientists, from the Argelander Institute for Astronomy at Bonn University and the Max-Planck Institute for Radioastronomy in Bonn, deduce that the early Galaxy went from smooth to clumpy in just a few hundred million years. The team publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Led by...

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2010-04-13 08:01:30

An international team of astronomers have discovered compelling evidence that rocky planets are commonplace in our Galaxy. Leicester University scientist and lead researcher Dr Jay Farihi surveyed white dwarfs, the compact remnants of stars that were once like our Sun, and found that many show signs of contamination by heavier elements and possibly even water, improving the prospects for extraterrestrial life. On Tuesday April 13th Dr Farihi will present his results at the RAS National...

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2010-03-03 12:25:00

Astronomers have discovered a relic from the early universe - a star that may have been among the second generation of stars to form after the Big Bang. Located in the dwarf galaxy Sculptor some 290,000 light-years away, the star has a remarkably similar chemical make-up to the Milky Way's oldest stars. Its presence supports the theory that our galaxy underwent a "cannibal" phase, growing to its current size by swallowing dwarf galaxies and other galactic building blocks. "This star likely is...

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2010-02-17 08:20:00

After years of successful concealment, the most primitive stars outside our Milky Way galaxy have finally been unmasked. New observations using ESO's Very Large Telescope have been used to solve an important astrophysical puzzle concerning the oldest stars in our galactic neighborhood "” which is crucial for our understanding of the earliest stars in the Universe. "We have, in effect, found a flaw in the forensic methods used until now," says Else Starkenburg, lead author of the paper...

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2010-01-14 15:08:08

Researchers of the University of Granada have conducted the most complete worldwide analysis of the chemical composition and evolutionary state of a spectral type R carbon star. The presence of carbon is essential for the possible development of life in the Universe, and therefore explaining its origin is of vital importance. What are the peculiar type-R stars made? Where does the carbon present in their shell come from? These are the questions to be solved by a research work conducted by...