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Australian scientists develop new tool for galactic archaeology

English.news.cn   2014-04-07 11:55:19


CANBERRA, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Australian scientists have developed a more precise way to deduce the ages of stars and to pinpoint when this Galaxy's big events happened, the latest research statement of the Australian National University (ANU) showed on Monday.

Until now, a celestial version of the carbon-dating used by terrestrial archaeologists has been missing. And this new tool, which harnesses the light and sounds from the stars, changed this situation.

According to the statement, a team of international astronomers led by Luca Casagrande from the ANU has developed a innovative tool, which can help us to "reconstruct the history of our Galaxy a whole lot easier". It will help astronomers to study the properties of ancient stars and help them better understand the formation and evolution of the Milky Way.

Casagrande first came up with the idea when he was working in Germany in 2011, and sharing a flat with another astronomer from a different field, the statement showed. And their initial set of data for 1,000 stars has been published in the pre-print of the latest Astrophysical Journal.

"This is the first paper of a series; the catalogue paper," Casagrande said. "Now we are working on the analysis, to release in the next few months, which will study how the age and chemical composition of the stars change in a 5,000 light-year long strip across the Milky Way," Casagrande added.

In addition, exactly how a giant prehistoric gas cloud condensed to form the stars and planets of our Galaxy, and why it formed its familiar spiral shape, are the kind of questions Casagrande's team are addressing, the statement said. "We might also uncover evidence for violent events in the past, such as collisions with other galaxies," Casagrande said.

Editor: Fu Peng
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