An invisible force separates the nearest star cluster to the solar system – and astronomers are trying to figure out what it is, like Science Alert reports.
The tearing itself is not a big surprise. Gravitational forces tend to separate star clusters to create tidal currents, which are basically rivers of stars.
But something else, much more violent, seems to be causing the stars in the Hyades cluster, about 153 light-years away, to be destroyed and scattered.
The European Space Agency’s Gaia Space Observatory has assisted scientists in creating a detailed three-dimensional map of the Milky Way.
Now, a team of astronomers from the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory is combing the recently published data from Gaia. They found hundreds of stars associated with Hyades’ tidal tails, which are even fewer threads of stars springing both behind and in front of a given cluster.
It has been determined that only Hijada’s tails exceed thousands of light years. What made them even more unusual, however, was the fact that many stars were not taken into account when the team used computer simulations to map the movements of stars during their lives for hundreds of millions of years.
In other words, something absolutely huge must be interacting with them to force them to form these paths.
“There must have been a close interaction with this really massive crowd, and the Hyades have just been broken,” said Tereza Jerabkova, a researcher at ESA and lead author of an article on the study published in the journal Astronomy and astrophysics.
In this paper, Jerabkova and her colleagues suggest that this “massive cluster” may be “sub-halo dark matter,” meaning natural clusters of dark matter that scientists believe can form a galaxy.
“With Gay, the way we see the Milky Way has completely changed,” Jerabokova said. “And with these discoveries, we will be able to map the substructures of the Milky Way much better than ever before.”
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