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Astronomers over the moon with ‘a box full of chocolates’

31 January 2017

Just over four months after the data from the Gaia satellite became available, University of Groningen astronomy professor Amina Helmi has published her first analysis. She has discovered new insights into how our Milky Way evolved. But there is so much more: ‘The data is incredibly rich.’

Our sun is part of the Milky Way, a galaxy containing some 200 billion stars. And there are billions and billions of galaxies in the Universe. But how did they evolve? ‘The main hypothesis is that structures in the Universe have grown from small to large via mergers’, Helmi explains. But the question is where the stars that we see in a galaxy today formed: from gas clouds in the galaxy itself? Or within the structures that coalesced? ‘In the case of the Milky Way, most stars were born in the galaxy, but it is very plausible that the most pristine stars were born elsewhere.’

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Last modified:01 February 2017 08.42 a.m.
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