A strange star hidden in the Milky Way could be an intruder from a dwarf galaxy that was once “swallowed” by our own.
Astronomers recently discovered that the star, called J1124+4535, is not like any of the other stars around it. Instead, the celestial object shares the same constellation as the famous group of stars that make up the Big Dipper.
The researchers explained: “Stars like this one have been found in present-day dwarf galaxies. Providing the clearest chemical signature of past accretion events onto the Milky Way.”
Scientists used a special telescope to analyze the spectrum of light radiating from the star and found that this particular star didn’t contain anywhere near as much magnesium and iron chemicals as the other stars around it.
This is unusual because stars form from clouds of interstellar gas and stars close together are assumed to have come from the same cloud and should therefore have the same chemical makeup.
A follow-up study confirmed these findings and also discovered that the alien star contained a large amount of a chemical called europium — so much in fact that it has more than the Sun.
This mixture of chemicals is unlike anything ever seen in the rest of the Milky Way and is solid evidence that this star could be a lonely remnant of a galaxy that is gone forever.
But although this star is a rare outsider in our galaxy, it is not alone in the Universe as other stars like it have been observed outside the Milky Way.
The study about this strange star has been published in Nature Astronomy.
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