Australian scientists discover dying building block of Milky Way

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The chance find offers a rare opportunity to study the evolution of the galaxy even as the cluster, known as the Phoenix stream, is torn apart.

Australia News, Australia Headlines

A group of ancient stars, perhaps the last remnants of the building blocks of the Milky Way, have been spotted by Australian astronomers.

"Phoenix represents one of the last remnants of an initial population that formed part of the building blocks of our galaxy," said University of Sydney astronomer Geraint Lewis."There would have been more of them, but over time the gravity of our galaxy would have torn them apart. Phoenix is the only example we have of the last of the originals," Professor Lewis said.

The Milky Way therefore contains a mix of new and old stars, complicating attempts to study the galaxy's evolution."This new result is indeed exciting and significant," said Professor Richard de Grijs, a Macquarie University astrophysicist who was not involved in the research. And they are old – ancient enough to suggest they were part of a dwarf galaxy consumed many billions of years ago by the Milky Way.

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