Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany have discovered a new structure in the Milky Way. The researchers have identified an inner ring of high-metal stars outside the bar, a central elongated structure of stars and gas. This is reported in an article published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The researchers analyzed data from the Gaia Space Telescope and APOGEE, a large-scale near-infrared spectroscopic survey of stars. This made it possible to determine the orbits of more than 30 thousand stars located in the inner part of the Milky Way galaxy.
Inside the central bar, the researchers found a ring structure where the age of the stars is less than that of the environment, at about seven billion years. They also have a higher metallicity, meaning they contain more elements heavier than hydrogen. A similar structure has been previously observed in other galaxies. At the same time, it is still unknown whether there is a connection between the ring and the spiral arms of the galaxy, and whether interstellar gas is currently directed into the thin stellar ring.