Deanna Csomo McCool | June 10, 2018
The atmospheres of thousands of nearby stars exhibit telltale fingerprints of the first massive stars of the universe, which exploded only a few million years after they were born.
“We can learn about the chemistry of the very early universe right in our own backyard, not just from studying faint sources more than 10 billion light years away,” said Timothy Beers, professor and Notre Dame Chair in Astrophysics at the University of Notre Dame. “They are rare, precious probes.”
Beers is presenting a briefing about his study of these stars Tuesday (June 5) during the American Astronomical Society meeting in Denver. His talk is one of 19 to be featured in a series of five press conferences that will take place during the five-day event.
In their death throes, early short-lived massive stars produced enormous amounts of light elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. These elements were incorporated into the next generation of stars, which were formed with a significantly lower mass — less than the mass of the sun. Their nuclear furnaces burn so slowly that they can be seen today in the halo of the Milky Way galaxy.
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