An impressive find from the real cemetery of stars of the universea veritable galactic underworld containing the corpses of once-massive suns that have since collapsed into black holes and neutron stars and is three times the size of the Milky Way.
David Sweeney, PhD student at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy at the University of Sydney, and lead author of the paper in the latest issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Societycommented that “these compact remnants of dead stars show a fundamentally different distribution and structure than the visible galaxy.”
Sweeney also provides an impressive statistic about this graveyard of stars: “it hosts a staggering 30 percent of the objects that have been completely ejected from the galaxy.”
By carefully recreating the entire life cycle of ancient dead stars, researchers have constructed the first detailed map showing where their corpses lie.
“One of the problems with finding these ancient objects is that, until now, we had no idea where to look,” said Professor Peter Tuthill of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy, a co-author of the paper. “The oldest neutron stars and black holes were created when the galaxy was younger and had a different shape, and then underwent complex changes spanning billions of years. It’s been a major task modeling all of this to find them.”
Dr Ryosuke Hirai of Monash University, who built models to determine the birth and death of a star and study its cycles, says: “Perhaps the most surprising finding of our study is that the kicks are so strong that the Milky Way will lose some of these remains entirely. They get kicked around so hard that about 30 percent of neutron stars are flung out into intergalactic space, never to return.”
“The most exciting part of this research is still ahead of us,” Sweeney said. “Now that we know where to look, we are developing technologies to hunt them down. I bet the ‘galactic underworld’ won’t remain shrouded in mystery for much longer.”