Careful detective work has led these astronomers to the conclusion that many stars travel unfathomable distances from their birthplace.
A new map of the Milky Way has shown astronomers something surprising. According to a report from Discovery News, astronomers are now able to follow the unfathomable distances that many stars have traveled from their birthplaces.
Scientists using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey-III (SDSS) to spectroscopically link the chemical elements that comprise stars to the locations throughout the galaxy where these elements are known to be abundant. According to the analysis, an estimated 30 percent of stars examined have traveled a considerable distance across space since they were formed.
According to Donald Schneider, the study’s co-author and astronomer from Penn State, the analysis is a bit like galactic archaeology. The data points to the locations, movements, and chemical makeups of the stars in the Milky Way, which helps scientists discern a great deal about their history.
Astronomers can tell how old a star is by examining its spectroscopic signature, much like counting the rings on a tree to determine its age. The chemical fingerprint in the atmosphere of a star can reveal a wide range of facts about where the star came from and how long it has been around.
The astronomers reached their conclusions after discovering traces of elements that were not typically found in certain locations throughout the Milky Way. It turns out that the wayward stars had left their chemical fingerprints in different regions throughout the galaxy as they migrated.
You can watch an animation of the wayward stars’ paths here: