Zoom on the Milky Way's ancient heart
Spiral arms curving from a central bulge – this is the shape of our galaxy (and many others). But deep within that bulge hide stars billions of years old.
Ancient stars have been discovered in the centre of the Milky Way for the first time.
The European Space Observatory's infrared VISTA telescope spotted the so-called RR Lyrae stars, which typically reside in ancient stellar populations more than 10 billion years old, in the central bulge of our galaxy.
Their discovery, which will be published in The Astrophysical Journal, suggests that the bulging centre of the Milky Way likely grew through the merging of primordial star clusters. These stars may even be the remains of the most massive and oldest surviving star cluster of the entire galaxy.
In the video above, take a flight into the very centre of the Milky Way where these RR Lyrae stars are found.