Astronomers Deciding To Map Family Tree Of Stars In The Galaxy


In 1859, Charles Darwin published his path-breaking theory “Origin of Species,” which elaborated that all life form on Earth shares a common ancestor.

The theory has facilitated by new researchers in the field of evolutionary biology. Now, astronomers are using the same theory to discover the history of stars.

How Is The Study Conducted?

Scientists are using principles from biology and archaeology to construct this “tree of life” for stars. By studying the chemical composition of the stars in the galaxy, the astronomers are constructing the tree together to see how stars evolve and how they are linked to each other.

The chemical composition of stars is similar to DNA sequences found in life forms present on the Earth. The group has chosen 22 stars, along with Sun and solar system. The chemical signature of these 22 stars has been carefully measured by using data gathered high-resolution spectra, which is captured from the telescopes placed in northern Chile.

As soon as the data was studied and families of the stars were determined by using their chemical DNA, researchers further studied its evolution. The research was conducted based on the age of stars and their kinematical properties, which was acquired from space mission Hipparcos.

Evolution Of Stars: Theory Or Fact?

Violent explosions taking place in the gas clouds, present in the galaxy produce stars. It is much convincing that two stars having similar chemical compositions may have been formed from the same gaseous molecular cloud.

Few stars survive the hardships of the universe and give fossil records of the gas they were formed from. Amongst the stars that were analyzed at Institute of Astronomy, the oldest was estimated to have been formed about 10 billion years ago, while the youngest star in the group is 700 million years old.

Similar to living organisms, stars also share a history of ancestry as they carry with them the chemical structure of their origin i.e. the gas clouds from which they were formed. Astronomers can apply the same phylogenetic methods biologists use to map out the descent of plants and animals, to discover the “evolution” of stars.