Hubble finds spiraling stars, providing window into early universe

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Stars are the machines that sculpt the universe, yet scientists don’t fully know how they form. To understand the frenzied ‘baby boom’ of star birth that occurred early in the universe’s history, researchers turned to the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. This nearby galaxy has a simpler chemical composition than the Milky Way, making it similar to the galaxies found in the younger universe, when heavier elements were more scarce. This allows it to serve as a proxy for the early universe. Two separate studies — the first with the Hubble Space Telescope, and the second with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope — recently came to the same conclusion. Using different methods, the independent teams found young stars spiraling into the center of a massive star cluster called NGC 346 in the Small Magellanic Cloud. This river-like motion of…

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