Using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Cerro Paranal Observatory in northern Chile, astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) managed to capture images of the most primitive stars in the Milky Way.
According to a communiqué released by the ESO, which administers the observatory, the discovery entails the identification of “the oldest stars in our galactic neighborhood, something crucial to understanding the primitive stars in our Universe.”
These celestial bodies were formed by material ejected right after the Big Bang, the great explosion 13.7 billion years ago that experts affirm originated the universe in its current state.
“They belong to one of the first generations of stars in the nearby Universe and are very scarce and mainly visible in the Milky Way,” the institution’s press release states.
In addition, according to the communiqué, it is believed that the major galaxies like the Milky Way were created from the merging of smaller galaxies normally located some 300,000 light years apart, equivalent to three times the size of the Milky Way.
Until now it had been very difficult to track them, but a new work technique made the discovery possible, after taking advantage of the improved focus capacity to make out the oldest stars, hidden among common ones.
Thus, once again important milestones in world astronomy are made from Chile. Previously, Chilean experts managed to discover an enigmatic supernova and the same telescope was used to capture the first image of a planet outside the solar system. In order to further boost Chile’s natural advantages for this sector – clear and open skies – the country hopes to win the process to build the biggest telescope in the world.
Likewise, the aforementioned characteristics make Chile a country that is a particularly advantageous place for studying this field, either on an undergraduate or postgraduate level.
This post is also available in Spanish