allowed to identify it as the remains of a dwarf galaxy (Gaia-Enceladus) that impacted with an early Milky Way. However, the nature of the red population and the time of the merger between Gaia-Enceladus and our Galaxy had not been revealed until now. “The analysis of the Gaia data has allowed us to obtain the age distribution of the stars of both components and has shown that both are made up of equally old stars, with an average age greater than that of the thick disk”, indicates the researcher of the IAC and co-author of the work Chris Brook. But if both components were formed at the same time, what difference is one from the other? “The final piece of the puzzle was provided by the amount of metals (elements that are neither hydrogen nor

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helium) that the stars of both components have,” explains Tomás Reunion Email Lists Ruiz Lara, IAC researcher and another of the authors of the article. And he adds: “The stars of the blue component contain a smaller amount of metals than those of the red component.” These findings, added to predictions from cosmological simulations, 13,000 million years ago, stars began to form in two different star systems that later merged: a dwarf galaxy called Gaia-Enceladus and another, the main progenitor of our Galaxy, about four times more massive and with more metals. The most massive system suffered a violent impact 10 billion years ago with Gaia-Enceladus. As a consequence, some of its stars and those belonging to Gaia-Enceladus acquired chaotic movements,

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becoming part of the halo of the Milky Way. After that, violent outbreaks of star formation occurred until 6,000 million years ago, when the gas settled in the disk of our galaxy, giving rise to what is known as the thin disk. “Until now, both the cosmological predictions and the observation of distant spiral galaxies similar to the Milky Way indicated that this violent phase of fusion of minor structures was frequent”, clarifies Matteo Monelli, IAC researcher and co-author of the work. Now, this process has been individualized to our galaxy, thus revealing the first stages of our cosmic history in unprecedented detail. After years of research on river clams in general and Margaritifera auricularia in particular, researchers from the National Museum of Natural Sciences

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