Published On: July 5, 2018

Astronomer Makes History

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Milky Way

Astronomer Denilso Camargo, from the Brazilian Ministry of Defense’s Military College in Porto Alegre, has made a remarkable discovery. After combing through data gathered by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite and analyzing telescope images, Denilso has managed to find not one, but five rare globular clusters tucked away in the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

This type of star cluster, recognized by its spherical shape, is incredibly old. Crammed with hundreds of thousands of stars, globular clusters are ancient and very dense star bundles that date back almost to the beginning of the universe.

According to the Brazilian media outlet Revista Galileu, the five globular clusters recently discovered by Denilso are between 12.5 and 13.5 billion years old. This means the star clusters were formed just after the Big Bang, which occurred 13.8 billion years ago.

“Globular clusters were the first stellar systems formed in the early universe and are often considered as living fossils of the galaxy’s formation,” explained Denilso. These five new clusters were spotted by the astronomer in the central region of the Milky Way.

clusters

Because Denilso Camargo is the discoverer of these five star clusters, he is given the right to name them. The newly discovered globular clusters are now known as Camargo 1102, 1103, 1104, 1105, and 1106.

Globular star clusters are quite rare in our galaxy. While giant elliptical galaxies boast several thousand globular clusters, the Milky Way has far less. As Denilso told Forbes magazine, “There are less than 200 globular clusters orbiting the Milky Way’s galactic core.” This makes his recent discovery that much more significant.

The Brazilian astronomer points out that these ancient star clumps are “a powerful tool” in furthering our understanding of how our Milky Way galaxy formed and evolved during its early stages. “The galactic bulge formation and evolution is one of the most important unsolved problems in the present epoch and, thus, remains a subject of intense debate,” said Denilso.

milkyway

As Denilso explains in his study, the newfound globular clusters “have the potential of providing important clues on the early inner galaxy formation and its subsequent evolution.” In a new study published this week in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Denilso said, “Camargo 1102 seems to be located over the galactic bar on the far side of the Milky Way and at a vertical distance lower than one kiloparsec [3.26 light-years]. The other four clusters lie even closer to the Milky Way mid-plane.”

To top it all off, Denilso has also contributed to the finding of 1101 open star clusters in the Milky Way. Two of these star clusters, Camargo 438 and Camargo 439, made headlines in 2015 when a study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society announced that embedded clusters had been found at the edge of our galaxy.

As NASA reported at the time, the two globular clusters, described by Denilso as “truly exotic,” were uncovered in a giant molecular cloud out in the middle of nowhere in a region of the Milky Way previously believed to be more or less empty. This was the first time ever that astronomers found young stars forming so far away from our galaxy’s usual stellar nurseries.

Milky Way 1

Our Milky Way galaxy

 

[This article appeared in slightly different form on the Inquisitr website.]

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