(ORDO NEWS) — After analyzing data from ESA’s Gaia satellite, astronomers from China’s Western Normal University have discovered 1,656 new star clusters in our Milky Way galaxy.
Star clusters are large gravitationally bound groups of stars. It is estimated that the Milky Way may contain about 100,000 star clusters. The researchers suggest that many undiscovered clusters are still hidden in dense stellar regions.
A team of astronomers have reported finding more than 1,600 star clusters in the Milky Way’s disk. The discovery is based on an early data release 3 (EDR3) from Gaia.
“Our approach was based on searching for star clusters that were centered by position and motion in the galactic disk.
The subsequent analysis was based on Gaia EDR3 astrometric data…
The new results presented in this paper increased the cluster sample size by more than 30%, increasing the total number of galaxy clusters to about 6000,” the researchers explained.
For the searches, the team used DBSCAN, a machine learning algorithm widely used in cluster searches.
As a result, astronomers have discovered 1,656 new star clusters and over 48,000 stars. The clusters are mostly located within 16,000 light-years of Earth. They tend to be older than the clusters closer to us.
“Because fainter old clusters have been difficult to detect, it is reasonable to believe that there are many undiscovered clusters still hidden from Gaia’s view,” the researchers concluded.
Scientists have found that most of the newly discovered star clusters have the photometric signature of open clusters.
However, the study also revealed a cluster resembling a globular one. It was designated CWNU 1944. The cluster is located about 12,600 light years away and contains only evolved stars.
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