The universe is a mysterious place — comprised of mostly dark matter and dark energy, neither of which scientists fully understand.
And now, a recent study shows that even our own cosmic neighborhood can surprise us at times.
Reporting in this month’s Astrophysical Journal Letters, a team of astronomers identified a band of special, young stars residing in one of the last spots they expected: near the heart of the Milky Way.
The remarkable discovery suggests that some unknown force is breathing new life into our galaxy’s center.
Before the team’s report, astronomers thought the Milky Way’s center, also called the galactic bulge, contained mostly old stars, which have been around for billions of years. The team’s discovery has uncovered a completely new component of our galaxy.
By analyzing nearly four years of observations — conducted between 2010 and 2014 — with the VISTA Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, the team discovered a band of 35 extremely young stars within the central bulge.
In the image below, the red dots represent the band of young stars, while the yellow star identifies our sun: