The stellar version of vampires—stars that drain life away from other stars—have been discovered for the first time in the heart of our Milky Way galaxy.
Called blue stragglers, these cannibal stars have been spotted in other parts of the Milky Way. They seem to lag in age next to the other stars with which they formed—appearing hotter, and thus younger and bluer.
Astronomers suspect blue stragglers look so youthful because they’ve stolen hydrogen fuel from other stars, perhaps after colliding into their victims.
These cannibal stars are routinely found in dense star clusters, where stars have many chances to feed off each other. Now, however, scientists have found blue stragglers in the Milky Way’s galactic bulge, a dense region of stars and gas surrounding the galaxy’s center.
“For a long time, it was suspected there were blue stragglers in the bulge, but no one knew how many there might be,” said Will Clarkson, an astronomer at Indiana University Bloomington and the University of California, Los Angeles.
“At long last, we’ve shown they’re there.”