Like Neil DeGrasse Tyson is fond of saying, "We are all stardust." To zoom out, however, shows that almost everything is stardust, more or less: After Big Bang, the stars were responsible for creating the heavier elements of the periodic table that eventually became the building blocks for planets, coal-based life and ( in the roundabout) Elon Musk.
Stars are so integrated into our universe that astronomers and researchers can use the masses, births and deaths of the stars to take care of our entire cosmos story.
And it turns out that our current history may be wrong.
It comes down to this: More massive stars live shorter, brighter lives before exploding in supernovaes, which may spur the creation of new stars, such as black holes and even solar systems.
To understand the patterns that formed galaxies (and the rest of the universe), you need to understand stars.
The latest statement from the European Southern Observatory summarizes it nicely:
"Understanding the proportions of stars of different masses formed in galaxies therefore supports the astronomers understanding of the formation and development of galaxies throughout the history of the universe. Therefore, it gives us important insights on the chemical elements available to form new stars and planets and ultimately the number of black holes that can coincide to form the super massive black holes we see in the centers of many galaxies. "
So what did astronomers detect disturbed their entire perception of the cosmos?
Well, new observations from ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array) show that there are ways ways more massive stars that surround our universe, including early galaxies, and many of them are much larger than we thought.
According to Fabian Schneider of Oxford University:
"We found about 30 percent [more stars than expected with masses more than 30 times that of the Sun] and about 70 percent more than expected over 60 solar masses. Our results challenge the previously predicted 150 solar mass the limit of the stars' maximum birth mass and even suggest that stars can get birth mass up to 300 solar values! "
Currently, our model of cosmos evolution is based on much fewer, smaller stars.
Now everything is out of the table.
"Our results lead us to question our understanding of cosmic history," said Rob Ivison, co-author of the new study. "Astronomers who build universe models now have to go back to the drawing board, but even more sophistication is required."