Even though the Milky Way galaxy is our home, that doesn’t mean that it cannot be capable of pretty terrifying things. One recent proof is represented by a peculiar stream of stars from the edges of our galaxy. The stars are located in the Phoenix constellation, and they defy the usual perception of stars. Furthermore, the stellar stream was destroyed by our planet.
Also known as the ‘Phoenix stream’ due to the host constellation, the mysterious stars are also very old, being linked to the Early Universe.
Peculiar chemistry for a globular cluster
A globular cluster is a stellar stream that’s like an elongated chain of stars that usually takes a spherical form. The scientists involved concluded that the Phoenix stream has a different chemistry than any other known globular cluster.
Astronomer Kyler Kuehn, who works at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, brings some interesting explanations:
We can trace the lineage of stars by measuring the different types of chemical elements we detect in them, much like we can trace a person’s connection to their ancestors through their DNA,
It’s almost like finding someone with DNA that doesn’t match any other person, living or dead.
The Phoenix stream demonstrates to have less heavy elements in its stars than scientists thought that it was theoretically possible. Astronomer Daniel Zucker from Macquarie University (Australia) even says that the stream comes from a cluster that shouldn’t exist at all.
Astronomer Ting Li from Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena provides an explanation:
One possible explanation is that the Phoenix stream represents the last of its kind, the remnant of a population of globular clusters that was born in radically different environments to those we see today,
The scientists believe that the ancient globular cluster was destroyed by the Milky Way’s gravitational field several billions of years ago.
The discovery was reported in Nature.