Chinese astronomers have discovered more than 500 possible open clusters of stars

(ORDO NEWS) — By analyzing data collected by the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, Chinese astronomers have discovered 541 candidate objects, which are new open clusters of stars located in the disk of our Galaxy.

The stars that make up open star clusters were formed from the same giant molecular cloud and are groups of stars freely bound to each other by gravitational forces.

So far, scientists have discovered over 1000 such clusters within the boundaries of the Milky Way and do not stop these searches. Expansion of the list of known galactic open star clusters and their detailed study play an important role in understanding the formation and evolution of the Galaxy.

In a new study, a team of astronomers led by Zhihong He of China’s Western Normal University report the identification of more than 500 objects that could be new open clusters of stars.

He and his team used an open-source algorithm called pyUPMASK to estimate the probability that each star in the Gaia data release belongs to star clusters.

According to the paper, these newly identified open cluster candidates are located in the Local, Sagittarius and Perseus arms, in the space between the arms of the Milky Way. Most of them are at a distance of no more than 10,000 light-years from the Earth and no more than 800 light-years from the disk of the Galaxy.

Moreover, almost all of these 541 objects show small variances in their total proper motion, indicating a high probability that they are indeed clusters of stars. With regard to metallicity, objects located in the inner disk of the Galaxy showed a higher metallicity compared to peripheral sources.

Summing up, the authors note that the study of stellar observational data collected with the help of the Gaia mission has great potential, since the identification performed so far is far from complete. The use of new data analysis algorithms will increase the degree of useful use of the information collected with the help of the space telescope.

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