(ORDO NEWS) — The Hyades star cluster completes its life cycle, which, according to astronomers’ forecasts, will disintegrate in just 30 million years.
Cluster Hyades is losing mass at an accelerated rate and has already entered the final stage of existence. Hyades is the closest open cluster to Earth, located just 150 light years from us. For comparison, the galactic center of the Milky Way is about 26,000 light-years from Earth.
In an article published on the Cornell University preprint server arXiv.org, astronomers predicted when the cluster would disappear. The article is titled “Kinematic Modeling of Clusters: The Death Pangs of the Hyades.” Here is what Semyon O, Ph.D., an astronomer at Cambridge University, said:
“We found that there is only about 30 million years left before the clast completely loses its mass. Compared to the age of Hyades, this is very small.”
The Hyades star cluster is believed to have formed about 680 million years ago.
Hyades are visible from Earth and appear to be in the constellation Taurus. The cluster’s brightest stars form a distinct V-shape along with the star Aldebaran, which is only 65 light years away.
Clusters like the Hyades tend to lose stars and rarely reach the age of one billion years or more. Violent events such as supernova eruptions can shatter them, scattering materials that bind stars.
Ejections of stellar gas clouds can trap stars in a cluster and pull them out by gravity. In this particular case, Dr. O said that the Milky Way itself was to blame for the gradual demise of the cluster.
Just as the moon’s gravitational pull causes tides on Earth, the Milky Way pulls the Hyades from both sides.
According to Science News, astronomers first noticed the problems with the processes in the Hyades in 2018. After that, stars were discovered leaving the cluster through two different tails, rushing into space. The two tails were found to contain more stars than the cluster itself.
In turn, the fewer stars there are in a cluster, the weaker gravity binds them together. At the current rate of mass loss, astronomers estimate that the Hyades will decay over the next 30 million years – a very short time on a cosmic scale.
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