[Ed. – Sounds serious.]
New data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia-ESO project has confirmed that our Milky Way galaxy grew from the inside out, backing up theories espoused in the standard model of the Big Bang.
Right after the Universe exploded into existence, it was made up almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. Levels of so-called “contaminant metals” grew up in galaxies over time, giving boffins a handy way to tell the age of the stars.
Using the Gaia-ESO project, astronomers tracked fast-produced elements like magnesium to see how quickly different parts of the Milky Way were formed. The study suggests that the inner regions of the galaxy assembled faster than the outer regions, confirming ideas that the Milky Way formed inside-out.
“The different chemical elements of which stars – and we – are made are created at different rates – some in massive stars which live fast and die young, and others in sun-like stars with more sedate multi-billion-year lifetimes,” said Professor Gerry Gilmore, lead investigator on the Gaia-ESO Project.