Believe in alien life? Try an alien star. There's one in the Big Dipper with a chemical composition unlike any other known star in our galaxy, Space.com reports. Located roughly 60,000 light-years away, the star lacks metals like magnesium but is high in Europium, meaning its chemical mix is more often found in neighboring dwarf galaxies. That makes it "the clearest chemical signature" so far of other galaxies colliding with the Milky Way billions of years ago, per a study in Nature Astronomy. One possible culprit is a sausage-shaped galaxy dubbed the "Gaia Sausage" that likely hit the Milky Way about 10 billion years ago, leaving behind billions of stars.
"As the smaller galaxy broke up, its stars were thrown onto very radial orbits," an astronomer said in a statement last year. "These Sausage stars are what’s left of the last major merger of the Milky Way." But others are on the way, with scientists predicting a major collision with the Large Magellanic Cloud in roughly two billion years and another with the Andromeda Galaxy about two or three billion years later. As for the newly discovered star—unfortunately named J1124+4535—it was first spotted by a telescope in China in 2015, then captured in high-resolution images by a Japanese infrared telescope in 2017, per LiveScience. If it's from the Gaia Sausage, it may be among the oldest stars in the universe. (Read more astronomy stories.)