When Milky Way Was Rapidly Producing Stars, Our Sun Hadn’t Even Formed Yet– Claims New Research

solar system

Recent findings of an astronomical study suggest that our Sun wasn’t around when the Milky Way first began producing stars at a rate much higher than what’s now considered normal. The study, published in The Astrophysical Journal, revealed exciting new information about the origins of our mighty star.

What we know

Astronomers found that some 10 billion years ago, the Milky Way experienced a frantic period of star birth, which we now refer to as our galaxy’s “baby boom.” During this stage, the Milky Way was forming stars 30 times faster than the rate at which stars are formed today. What’s interesting is, however, that our Sun missed this frenzied activity, as it took shape some 5 billion years later.


How we know that

A comprehensive multi-observatory galaxy survey was carried out to observe nearly 2,000 spiral galaxies through the Hubble Space Telescope and other space and ground-based telescopes. Astronomers do not have photographs of the formative stages of the Milky Way. Therefore, they studied other galaxies similar to ours. Since the farther into the universe you look, the further back in time you’re seeing. It is then possible to observe the origins of these galaxies.

“This study allows us to see what the Milky Way may have looked like in the past,” said Casey Papovich, the lead author on the paper which describes the study’s results. “It shows that these galaxies underwent a big change in the mass of its stars over the past 10 billion years, bulking up by a factor of 10, which confirms theories about their growth. And most of that stellar-mass growth happened within the first 5 billion years of their birth.”

What it means

Having developed late, the Sun actually proved to be beneficial for our solar system, particularly the planets, since the conditions before its formation were favorable for the growth of the planets. Some of the stars which formed during the so-called baby boom exploded as supernovae, scattering their enriched entrails in the galaxy. This created elements heavier than Hydrogen and Helium, which formed the building blocks of the planets such as the Earth. So, in a way, the late blooming sun paved way for life to exist in the first place.

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About the author

Kristin covers health, science and internet news.