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Galactic Archaeology

As the metal-free first stars collapsed and exploded into supernovae, they forged heavier elements such as carbon that seeded the next generation of stars. One type of these second stars is called a carbon-enhanced metal-poor star. They’re like fossils to astrophysicists. Their composition reflects the nucleosynthesis, or fusion, of heavier elements from the first stars. “We can get results from indirect measurements to get the mass distribution of metal-free stars from the elemental abundances of metal-poor stars,” said Gen Chiaki, a post-doctoral researcher in the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, School of Physics, Georgia Tech. Chiaki is the lead author of a study published in the September 2020 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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