Astronomers have found a collection of stars called the Phoenix stream that was named after the Phoenix constellation.
It is the remainder of an ancient collection of stars known as a globular cluster. These clusters used to be in a spherical form and can be ripped apart by Milky Way’s gravitational forces.
A study, carried out by a team of astronomers, including Lowell Observatory in Arizona, revealed that the chemistry of Phoenix stream is different from any globular cluster. The research was published in Nature.
Astronomer Kyler Kuehn from the Lowell Observatory said that the lineage of stars can be traced by measuring the different types of chemical elements.
Kyler added that it’s like finding a person’s connection to his ancestors using DNA.
The Milky Way galaxy consists of around 150 globular clusters. They exist in the galactic halo, a spherical structure that covers the relatively flat galactic disk.
Hundreds of thousands of stars gather inside the globular clusters. Each cluster shows a certain consistency in their stellar chemistry. The stars in the clusters have 'heavier' chemical elements, massive than hydrogen and helium.
The Big Bang theory suggests that all the gas in the Universe was made up of either hydrogen or helium. Elements like oxygen, magnesium and carbon made their way much later through the fusion mechanisms of subsequent generations of stars.
However, the Phoenix stream does not obey the chemical threshold. It demonstrates less heavy elements in its stars, different from what the astronomers had expected. They believe that the Phoenix stream is the last of its kind.