The hidden stars are known as red dwarfs for their color and small size. Because red dwarfs are small and dim compared to stars like the Sun, astronomers hadn't been able to detect them in galaxies beyond the Milky Way before now. As such, they didn't know how many stars in the universe were red dwarfs.
Scientists used powerful instruments on the Keck Observatory in Hawaii to detect the faint signature of red dwarfs in the cores of eight elliptical galaxies, which are located between about 50 million and 300 million light-years away. They discovered that the red dwarfs, which are only between 10 and 30 percent as massive as the Sun, were much more bountiful than expected.
"As it turns out, the universe thinks small, at least when it comes to star size," said Harvard astronomer Charlie Conroy. "Our stellar inventory has changed dramatically."
"No one knew how many of these stars there were," said Pieter van Dokkum, a Yale University astronomer who led the research. "Different theoretical models predicted a wide range of possibilities, so this answers a long-standing question about just how abundant these stars are."
Their results imply that stellar population counts depend on what type of galaxy astronomers examine, just as a census of the city of New York and the town of Derby, Kansas will find very different population numbers.
"We usually assume other galaxies look like our own. But this suggests other conditions are possible in other galaxies," Conroy stated. "This discovery could have a major impact on our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution."
In particular, galaxies might contain less dark matter - a mysterious substance only detectable due to its gravitational effects - than previous measurements of their masses indicated. Instead, the abundant red dwarfs might contribute more mass than previously calculated.
Christine Pulliam | EurekAlert!
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
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,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy