New Milky Way map reveals how stars migrate across the galaxy

A new study has revealed that some stars traveled insane distances from their birthplace before reaching their current location in the Milky Way.
By Aaron Sims | Aug 04, 2015
A new map of the Milky Way has revealedsomething surprising. According to a report from Discovery News, astronomers have finally figured out how to trace the incredibledistances that many stars have traveled from their places where they were born.

Researchersused the Sloan Digital Sky Survey-III (SDSS) to spectroscopically tiethe chemical elements that make up stars to the locations acrossthe galaxy where these elements are known to be found in abundance. According to theirresults, about30 percent of stars studiedhave migrated a great distance across space since they were formed.

According to Donald Schneider, the study's co-author and astronomer from Penn State, the researchis a bit like galactic archaeology. The data revealsthe locations, movements, and chemical compositionsof 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 looking atits unique spectroscopic signature, similar tocounting the rings on a tree to revealits age. The chemical fingerprint in a star's atmosphere can tella lotabout where the star came from and how long it has been around.

The astronomers realized that some stars had traveled a great distanceafter discovering traces of elements that were not normally found in certain locales across the Milky Way. It turns out that the travelingstars had left traces of their chemical fingerprints all acrossthe galaxy as they migrated.

 

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