It’s been part of our galaxy since the dawn of time.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC/Caltech)
While the bulk of the Milky Way spins in an unmistakable spiral, wispy trails of stars find their own orbit around the galaxy’s center.
Billions of years ago, they were organized in globular clusters that held some of the first materials that formed the Milky Way.
International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine
On January 5, a team of international researchers announced the discovery of a new star stream: C-19.
Researchers thought that globular clusters couldn’t have less than 0.2 percent metallicity.
But C-19 has less than 0.05 percent.
“It was not known if globular clusters with so few heavy elements exist — some theories even hypothesized they couldn’t form at all.”
Nicolas Martin, lead study author
Metals — in astronomical terms, elements heavier than helium — were essential for forming stars, planets, and other bodies within the early galaxy.
Gabriel Pérez Díaz, SMM (IAC)
Finding star streams with such low concentrations of metals opens the question of how much material was actually needed to create the Milky Way as we know it.
WLADIMIR BULGAR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images
Having those curious remnants from the primordial days gives researchers a window into understanding the formation of both galaxies — and the universe.