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Cosmic Origin of the Chemical Elements, Ep. 5: Stellar Archaeology

Have you ever wondered how all the chemical elements are made? Then join me

as we are lifting all the star dust secrets to understand the cosmic origin of the

chemical elements. Let's summarize what we've learned so far about the old stars

and how they can be used in our concept of stellar archaeology to understand

what happened soon after the Big Bang, in terms of chemical enrichment and

chemical evolution. We have old stars and we call them "metal-poor", and there are our

tool, our tool to study the early universe.

These stars are long lived. They have a low mass, something like 0.6 to 0.8

solar masses, and that means that they have lifetime of 15 to 20 billion years.

That means that they are still observable. That is very lucky for us,

and they are not just observable, there are actually easily observable

because they are now located in the Milky Way. Let's look at this again: so

this is a very quick drawing of our Milky Way. This is the bulge, the inner

part of our galaxy with a supermassive black hole in the center. And this here

are actually two disks. That is the disk, and we're about two thirds on the way

out. The bulge contains a lot of young stars, there's a lot of gas which means

you have formed a lot of stars which means you made a lot of elements and formed

more stars. So the bulge is very metal rich. The disk here is not quite

as metal-rich but still pretty enriched. Now, this is not the only

part of our galaxy. This is just the most visible part, namely the Milky Way band

on the night sky. That's from when you look into the spiral arms that make up the disk.

But we look in a different place for the oldest stars because they are kind of

located up here and below the disk: In

something that's called the halo. It's actually much larger than what

I'm drawing right now. That's called a halo of the disk. It's a

spherical envelope of this this disk here. All the old stuff is parked there.

It's bit of a junkyard, yeah, because when a galaxy forms, you have

small systems that actually come together and form bigger system, and then,

here, you have a bigger system, too, and then they come together and make an

even bigger one. That's called the hierarchical structure formation

paradigm. This is the Milky Way which means that these little guys

here kind of end up in the outskirts or at least a good amount of these little

guys end up in the outskirts but they are completely shredded apart. And what

is left are all the stars that have been spilled into the Milky Way. This is

how old stars actually get into the outer halo of the Milky Way.

I should mention here that little dwarf galaxies -- also actually in

in the halo of the galaxy -- they also pretty old, so these are entire little

systems here that are not completely shredded yet. They are just in the

gravitational field, here, of the Milky Way, and they are orbiting around the disk

and we also have globular clusters. These are clusters stars, actually clusters of stars with

up to a million stars, and they are also located here and down here, and they are

also really old. We don't really know where they come from but the halo

contains mostly three things: globular clusters, dwarf galaxies and lots of old

stars and so with our telescope we can peek from here and here up into the

halo, and here and observe all the old stars that are

in this range. All in all, our metal-poor stars are the local equivalent to what

we call the high-redshift universe. In a very complimentary way, both metal

poor stars and the furthest, most distant galaxies are used to study the early

universe. These faraway galaxies, when the light comes to us, we receive it from

this early time and this way we can figure out what this galaxy can tell us

about the early universe because it formed at that early time. Our metal-poor stars,

their light hasn't travelled for a long time. It has traveled maybe just

from here to us. That's a negligible amount of time

because these stars are today located in our Milky Way. But they are really old. We

see them as when they are old, not as when they were young as it's in the case

of these distant galaxies. But the fact that we see them all doesn't doesn't

matter to us. Because these stars don't get wrinkly or anything they just sit

there and they are just waiting for us to observe them. As we will see in

the following, these stars are really undisturbed and they just look like --

today they look just like what they did 13 billion years ago.

So that's a huge advantage for us, and of course we're going to

make use of it.



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Have you ever wondered how all the chemical elements are made? Then join me

as we are lifting all the star dust secrets to understand the cosmic origin of the

chemical elements. Let's summarize what we've learned so far about the old stars

and how they can be used in our concept of stellar archaeology to understand

what happened soon after the Big Bang, in terms of chemical enrichment and

chemical evolution. We have old stars and we call them "metal-poor", and there are our

tool, our tool to study the early universe.

These stars are long lived. They have a low mass, something like 0.6 to 0.8

solar masses, and that means that they have lifetime of 15 to 20 billion years.

That means that they are still observable. That is very lucky for us,

and they are not just observable, there are actually easily observable

because they are now located in the Milky Way. Let's look at this again: so

this is a very quick drawing of our Milky Way. This is the bulge, the inner

part of our galaxy with a supermassive black hole in the center. And this here

are actually two disks. That is the disk, and we're about two thirds on the way

out. The bulge contains a lot of young stars, there's a lot of gas which means

you have formed a lot of stars which means you made a lot of elements and formed

more stars. So the bulge is very metal rich. The disk here is not quite

as metal-rich but still pretty enriched. Now, this is not the only

part of our galaxy. This is just the most visible part, namely the Milky Way band

on the night sky. That's from when you look into the spiral arms that make up the disk.

But we look in a different place for the oldest stars because they are kind of

located up here and below the disk: In

something that's called the halo. It's actually much larger than what

I'm drawing right now. That's called a halo of the disk. It's a

spherical envelope of this this disk here. All the old stuff is parked there.

It's bit of a junkyard, yeah, because when a galaxy forms, you have

small systems that actually come together and form bigger system, and then,

here, you have a bigger system, too, and then they come together and make an

even bigger one. That's called the hierarchical structure formation

paradigm. This is the Milky Way which means that these little guys

here kind of end up in the outskirts or at least a good amount of these little

guys end up in the outskirts but they are completely shredded apart. And what

is left are all the stars that have been spilled into the Milky Way. This is

how old stars actually get into the outer halo of the Milky Way.

I should mention here that little dwarf galaxies -- also actually in

in the halo of the galaxy -- they also pretty old, so these are entire little

systems here that are not completely shredded yet. They are just in the

gravitational field, here, of the Milky Way, and they are orbiting around the disk

and we also have globular clusters. These are clusters stars, actually clusters of stars with

up to a million stars, and they are also located here and down here, and they are

also really old. We don't really know where they come from but the halo

contains mostly three things: globular clusters, dwarf galaxies and lots of old

stars and so with our telescope we can peek from here and here up into the

halo, and here and observe all the old stars that are

in this range. All in all, our metal-poor stars are the local equivalent to what

we call the high-redshift universe. In a very complimentary way, both metal

poor stars and the furthest, most distant galaxies are used to study the early

universe. These faraway galaxies, when the light comes to us, we receive it from

this early time and this way we can figure out what this galaxy can tell us

about the early universe because it formed at that early time. Our metal-poor stars,

their light hasn't travelled for a long time. It has traveled maybe just

from here to us. That's a negligible amount of time

because these stars are today located in our Milky Way. But they are really old. We

see them as when they are old, not as when they were young as it's in the case

of these distant galaxies. But the fact that we see them all doesn't doesn't

matter to us. Because these stars don't get wrinkly or anything they just sit

there and they are just waiting for us to observe them. As we will see in

the following, these stars are really undisturbed and they just look like --

today they look just like what they did 13 billion years ago.

So that's a huge advantage for us, and of course we're going to

make use of it.


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