Galactic archaeology Using chemical abundances to map our galaxy's history

2022 Research Outreach  
J ust as archaeologists use techniques like carbon dating to determine the ages of ancient artefacts, the abundances of particular chemical elements can be incredibly useful to astronomers, as they aim to reconstruct the history of galaxies like the Milky Way. To determine the ages of galaxies and the structures that comprise them, researchers look for the unique fingerprints of specific chemical elements in the light spectra of stars containing them. If these observations reveal higher
more » ... es of quickly-forming elements, combined with a lack of elements which can only form over far longer timescales, this must indicate that the stars were formed early on in the galaxy's history. Conversely, a higher ratio of slowly-forming elements would suggest the opposite.
doi:10.32907/ro-128-2255857574 fatcat:obwz4rfsvze63g2rzta5ze2ggq