A source of “eternal” youth is found in the center of the Milky Way

There is a legend about a 16th-century Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Báthory, who used a terrible method to preserve her youth. Historical sources claim that she was accused of murdering hundreds of girls to use their blood to restore youth. Although the veracity of these accusations is questionable, the idea of using black magic to achieve eternal youth still remains alive. Even in space, some stars use a similar “rejuvenating” effect by feeding on other stars. Studies of stars in the center of the Milky Way galaxy indicate that their age significantly exceeds their appearance, because their youth may be the result of cosmic cannibalism.

The orbits of stars around the black hole in the center of the Milky Way. Illustration: eso.org

The Galactic Center is a place of extreme activity, with a huge supermassive black hole and a large number of stars that periodically collide and merge. This environment creates ideal conditions for “space crimes”.

Astrophysicists turned to simulations to understand the consequences of collisions of stars in the center of the galaxy. They have found that most collisions result in stars merging into larger objects. Some stars receive additional material during this process, which makes them look younger, although in fact they may be much older. But there is a certain compromise here. The more massive a star is, the shorter its lifespan.

The results of the study explain an interesting feature of the galactic center — the mysterious absence of old red giants. The loss of mass from collisions and mergers, which result in larger but short-lived stars, reduces the number of red giants that can be seen in a normal stellar population. 

Further observations and theoretical research can help shed light on these processes and reveal the complex dynamics occurring in a space environment unlike any other in the galaxy.

Earlier, we reported on how astrophysicists modeled the appearance of the Milky Way from the era of ancient Egypt.

According to sciencealert.com

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