Stellar Swarms helping Astronomers in Understanding Evolution of Stars

The researchers from Carnegie and the American Museum of Natural History recently identified a number of new stars with similar ages and composition. The new stars are drifting through space with common velocities. The researchers have associated them as the members of the stellar associations for their similar ages, composition, and velocities. According to their research, they discovered 31 confirmed members and nearly a thousand potential members of the stellar associations.

Stellar Associations and the Evolution of our Planetary System:

The astronomers usually use the stellar associations to gather the information about the history of the formation of stars in our corner of the Milky Way. They do this because of the internal similarities between the group members and the external differences among different groups. The ages of these stars vary from a few million years to a billion years old depending on their groups. So, the astronomers can have a sweeping view of the stellar evolution among our neighbors through a specific range.

In this research, the astronomers combed through the Gaia data obtained from the European Space Agency. Gaia is a three-dimensional mapping mission of our galaxy which was released earlier this year. With this research, they were able to discover the goldmine of the potential and the confirmed group members of the stellar associations.

understanding evolution of stars
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Credit: Public Domain

What the research says

The latest research about the new stars got published in the Astrophysical Journal. It can help the astronomers in understanding the evolution of the stars. Moreover, it can also help in studying the properties of the future exoplanet discoveries. As the swarm of birds flies together in the sky, the researchers named the new stars as Stellar Swarms. According to them, the common velocities of stars depict that they are related to an association.

The researchers considered the ‘red dwarfs’ stars in their sample for this study. The red dwarfs are smaller in size compared to our Sun and relatively cool. Due to which, it is difficult to observe them. However, they are extremely common in our galaxy. That’s why the Gaia data proved to be such a great windfall in this research.

Besides the bonanza of red dwarf members of the stellar associations, the researchers also discovered 111 brown dwarfs which are part of the local associations. They sometimes call brown dwarfs as super Jupiters or failed stars. Because they’re smaller in size than the stars. In fact, they are too small to sustain the hydrogen fusion process. However, they are more massive than the giant planets. That’s why the scientists consider them as a natural link between astronomy and planetary science.


This research can be useful in understanding the planets and the planet-like objects found within their associations in the future space-based missions of NASA like Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). If NASA is able to find exoplanets orbiting our stellar neighbors in its future missions then this research could be used to learn about the evolution of the planetary system at different points in time.


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