A large survey, made with ESO's VLT, has shed light on our Galaxy's ancestry. After determining the chemical composition of over 2000 stars in the four nearest dwarf galaxies to our own, astronomers have demonstrated fundamental differences in their make-up, casting doubt on the theory that these diminutive galaxies could ever have formed the building blocks of our Milky Way Galaxy.
"The chemistry we see in the stars in these dwarf galaxies is just not consistent with current cosmological models," said Amina Helmi of the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in Groningen, The Netherlands, and lead author of the paper presenting the results. "It shows that there is plenty of astronomy to learn in our backyard."
Our Milky Way Galaxy is surrounded by a number of dwarf satellite galaxies, which because of their loosely rounded shape are referred to as 'dwarf spheroidal' galaxies. Faint and diffuse, these dwarf galaxies are a thousand times fainter than the Milky Way itself, making them the least luminous galaxies known.
Modern cosmological models predict that small galaxies form first, and later assemble into larger systems like our Galaxy. Since the Universe initially only contained hydrogen and helium (most of all other chemical elements being synthesized inside stars), dwarf galaxies should have the lowest heavy element content. Not so, say the astronomers.
As part of a large observational programme, the Dwarf galaxies Abundances and Radial-velocities Team (DART), Helmi and her colleagues from institutes in 9 different countries used the FLAMES instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope to measure the amount of iron in over 2000 individual giant stars in the Fornax, Sculptor, Sextans and Carina dwarf spheroidals.
Their data unearthed fundamental differences in the dwarf galaxy stars' chemical composition compared with those in our galactic halo, calling into question the merger theory as the origin of large galaxies' haloes. Whilst the average abundances of elements in the dwarf spheroidals is comparable with that seen in the Galactic halo, the former are lacking the very metal-poor stars that are seen in the Milky Way - the two types of systems, contrary to theoretical predictions, are essentially of different descent.
"Our results rule out any merging of the nearby dwarf galaxies as a mechanism for building up the Galactic halo, even in the early history of the Universe," said Helmi. "More detailed chemical abundance studies of these systems are needed, as this will tell us more about what happened at those early epochs in our local Universe".
Significantly more productivity in USP lasers
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
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