Scientists announced they’d uncovered a graveyard of dead stars in the Milky Way.
In a study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomers said the graveyard consists of once-massive suns that are now black holes and neutron stars.
According to the study, the massive “galactic underworld” stretches three times the height of the Milky Way.
“These compact remnants of dead stars show a fundamentally different distribution and structure to the visible galaxy,” said the study’s lead author, David Sweeney, in a news release.
According to scientists, when a massive star more than eight times larger than the sun collapses, the core compresses onto itself until it becomes either a neutron star or a black hole.
The study’s co-author, Sydney Institute for Astronomy’s Professor Peter Tuthill, said finding the ancient objects has been a major task since they didn’t know where to look.
“The oldest neutron stars and black holes were created when the galaxy was younger and shaped differently, and then subjected to complex changes spanning billions of years. It has been a major task to model all of this to find them,” Tuthill said according to the news release.
But by recreating the lifecycle of the ancient objects, the researchers have constructed a first-ever detailed map that shows where their corpses lie.
“The most exciting part of this research is still ahead of us,” Sweeney said in the news release. “Now that we know where to look, we’re developing technologies to go hunting for them. I’m betting that the ‘galactic underworld’ won’t stay shrouded in mystery for very much longer.”
By Sarah Rogers, Scripps National.