Astrophysicists discover a novel method for hunting the first stars | Science & Technology

A recent study led by the research group of Professor Jane Lixin DAI of the Department of Physics at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has discovered a novel method for detecting the first-generations stars, known as Population III (Pop III) stars, which have never been directly detected. The research has been widely acknowledged by the international astronomy community with a highlight from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates several NASA telescopes. These potential discoveries about Pop III stars hold the promise of unlocking the secrets of the universe’s origin and providing a deeper understanding of the remarkable journey from the primordial cosmos to the world we inhabit today. Their findings have recently been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Shortly after the Universe began with the Big Bang, the first stars, composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, began to form. The properties of these first-generation stars, Pop III, are very different from stars like our own Sun or even the ones that are forming today. They were tremendously hot, gigantic in size and mass, but very short-lived. Pop III stars are the first factories to synthesise most elements heavier than hydrogen and helium around us today. They are also very important for forming later generations of stars and galaxies. However, there have not been convincing direct detections of Pop III stars up to now, as these stars formed in the early universe are very far away and way too faint for any of our telescopes on the ground or in space.

For the first time, HKU scientists discovered a novel method for detecting these first stars in the early Universe. A recent study led by the research group of Professor Jane Lixin DAI of the Department of Physics at HKU proposed that a Pop III star can be torn apart into pieces by tidal force if it wanders into the vicinity of a massive black hole. In such a tidal disruption event (TDE), the black hole feasts on the stellar debris and…

Source www.sciencedaily.com

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