As Neil DeGrasse Tyson likes to say: "We are all stardust". However, a little more, it reveals that almost all is dust of stars, more or less: after the Big Bang, the stars were responsible for creating the heaviest elements in the periodic table that finally they became the building blocks of the planets, life based on carbon, and (indirectly) Elon Musk.
Stars are so essential in our universe that astronomers and scientists can use the masses, births and deaths of stars to get an idea of the entire history of our cosmos.
And it turns out that our current story may be wrong.
It all boils down to this: more massive stars live shorter and brighter lives before exploding into supernovas, which can stimulate the creation of new stars, as well as black holes and even solar systems.
If you want to understand the patterns that shaped galaxies (and the rest of the universe), then you need to understand the stars.
The recent declaration of the European Southern Observatory sums it up very well:
"Knowing the proportions of stars of different masses that form in galaxies, therefore, underpins astronomers' understanding of the formation and evolution of the galaxies throughout the history of the Universe, therefore, gives us crucial information about the chemical elements available to form new stars and planets and, finally, the number of black holes that can be joined to form the supermassive black holes we see in the centers of many galaxies. "
So, what did the astronomers discover that upset their entire conception of the cosmos?
Well, the new ALMA observations (Atacama Large Milimeter / submillimeter Array) reveal that there is path, way more massive stars hanging around our universe, including the first galaxies, and many of them are much larger than we imagine.
According to Fabian Schneider of the University of Oxford:
"We found about 30 percent [more stars than expected with masses more than 30 times that of the Sun] and about 70 percent more than expected above 60 solar masses.Our results challenge the solar mass previously predicted 150 limit for the maximum birth mass of the stars and even suggest that the stars could have masses of birth of up to 300 solar masses! "
Currently, our model of the evolution of the cosmos is based on many fewer smaller stars.
Now, everything is off the table.
"Our findings lead us to question our understanding of cosmic history," said Rob Ivison, co-author of the new study. "Astronomers who create models of the universe must now return to the drawing board, with even greater sophistication required."