Gatecrashing Star Reveal Solar System’s Elemental Origins
Astronomers have made an intriguing discovery in a star-forming region called NGC2264, about 2,350 light-years away from Earth. They found an ancient star unexpectedly mingling with a group of young, hot stars.
Using the Gaia satellite, Richard Parker of The University of Sheffield and his team came up with an interesting discovery. However, they accidentally discovered an “interloping” star while looking for fast-moving stars that are ejected from star-forming regions as a result of collisions with other stars.
This particular star had formed somewhere else but was passing through their observing region. Based on its colour and brightness, astronomers determined that it was a “evolved star” called an Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) star.
The presence of older stars like this interloper among young star systems could help scientists understand how our solar system, especially Earth, ended up with certain isotopes of elements long ago.
AGB stars are believed to create these elements, such as aluminum-26 and iron-60, and release them into space through stellar winds.
AGB stars are created when stars with masses comparable to the sun or up to eight times greater run out of hydrogen in their cores and begin fusing helium in their outer layers, AGB stars are created. This stage is anticipated to be reached by the sun in around 5 billion years.
This discovery opens up new possibilities for understanding star systems’ origins and chemical evolution, shedding light on the processes that shaped our solar system billions of years ago.