Hubble finds rare blue stars in Milky Way

GREENBELT, Md., May 26 (UPI) -- NASA says the Hubble telescope has found a rare class of oddball stars called blue stragglers in our Milky Way, the first detected within our galaxy's center.

While blue stragglers -- so named because they seemingly lag behind in the aging process, appearing younger than the population from which they formed -- have been detected in many distant star clusters and among nearby stars, but they never have been seen inside the core of our galaxy, a NASA release said Thursday.


It is not clear how blue stragglers form, although the leading theory is that they emerge from binary pairs, where the smaller star gains material from its larger companion as the bigger star evolves and expands.

The added material stirs up hydrogen fuel and causes the growing smaller star to undergo nuclear fusion at a faster rate, the theory says, and burns hotter and bluer, looking like a massive young star.

The findings support the idea that the Milky Way's central bulge stopped making stars billions of years ago and is now home to aging sun-like stars and cooler red dwarfs.

Any truly old giant blue stars that once existed there have long since exploded as supernovas, astronomers say, leaving only the somewhat deceptive blue stragglers.


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