Tidings | Observations of a Nearby Galaxy are Baffling Astronomers

Tidings | Observations of a Nearby Galaxy are Baffling Astronomers

An Australian team observing the Large Magellanic Cloud discovered a group of stars with an age that the accepted understanding of cosmic evolution would say is impossible

The accepted understanding of how stars are formed says that the stars inside of a star cluster should be relatively the same age and made from roughly the same material. This assumption is what astronomers and astrophysicists have relied on when creating their models of stellar objects or aspects of space in general. It’s been utilized heavily as a foundation to advance the knowledge of space and create new assumptions about the cosmos.

Yet, the research just published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society would suggest that this base understanding is incorrect.

Out of the thousands of stars that were studied in the focus cluster inside the Large Magellanic Cloud, fifteen showed themselves to be substantially younger than the other stars around them.

stars, star cluster, LMC cluster of stars
A cluster of stars in the LMC – Credit: ESA

“The formation of these younger stars could have been fuelled by gas entering the clusters from interstellar space,” said the co-author of the study, Dr Kenji Bekki.

“But we eliminated this possibility using observations made by radio telescopes to show that there was no correlation between interstellar hydrogen gas and the location of the clusters we were studying.”

stars in the lmc
A shot of the stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud using infrared – Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL

The observations are incredibly worrisome for those working in the astronomical community, many of whom have based their work on this now questionable assumption.

Dr Bi-Qing For, another co-author of the study who, like her associate Dr. Bekki, is from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Perth, commented:

“If this assumption turns out to be incorrect, as our findings suggest, then these important models will need to be revisited and revised.”

She believes our understanding of how stars form is a cornerstone of the different space sciences and so stresses the importance of these findings.

Their research may have been met with stronger resistance if it hadn’t been for recent discoveries made by the Hubble telescope—two in 2015 and one in 2007—which cast some initial doubt on the conventional understanding of how stars were formed.

As well, a number of other bizarre observations have been in recent years—one such can be found here and another here and here and here—which have added to the growing belief that our fundamental understanding of space may need to be revised.

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