Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

X-Ray Snapshots Capture The First Cries Of Baby Stars

Date:
November 10, 2000
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Stars, like babies, make quite a fuss in their first days after birth. Astronomers using the Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered that protostars--stars in their youngest, "neonatal" stage--are marked by powerful X rays from plasma ten times hotter and 100 to 100,000 times brighter than the flares on our Sun. This is all long before their nuclear furnaces of hydrogen even ignite, the mark of stellar maturity.

Stars, like babies, make quite a fuss in their first days after birth. Astronomers using the Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered that protostars--stars in their youngest, "neonatal" stage--are marked by powerful X rays from plasma ten times hotter and 100 to 100,000 times brighter than the flares on our Sun. This is all long before their nuclear furnaces of hydrogen even ignite, the mark of stellar maturity.

Related Articles


The X-ray flares have also provided the closest look yet at the youngest stars in the Universe, never before detected because they are hidden within dust and molecular clouds that filter all other types of light.

Yohko Tsuboi of the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) presents these findings today in a press conference at the meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"We peered at newborn stars deeply embedded in their cradle and found that their crying is much more tumultuous than we expected," said Tsuboi. "With Chandra, we now have a new tool to examine protostars, which have been impossible to gain access to in any other wavelength."

Tsuboi and her collaborators looked at the two youngest types of protostars: Class-0 (zero) protostars, about 10,000 years old; and Class-I protostars, about 100,000 years old. In human terms, these protostars are like one-day-old and one-week-old babies, respectively.

The transition from one class to another is marked by changes in the protostar's infrared spectrum as the gas and dust envelope diminishes. The envelope has been well studied by infrared and radio astronomers. Protostars themselves and their most extreme activities, however, have remained hidden until now, embedded in the dense envelopes.

Previous X-ray telescopes--namely the Japan-U.S. Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics and the German-UK-US Roentgen Satellite--discovered sporadic X rays from several Class-I protostars. These satellites did not have enough spatial resolution nor sensitivity, however, to resolve the large percentage of protostars deep inside crowded cloud cores.

With Chandra, astronomers from Penn State and Kyoto University in Japan have detected X rays from 17 Class-I protostars in a region with 22 known "infrared" Class-I sources. These protostars are located in the rho Ophiuchi molecular cloud 500 light years from Earth in constellation Ophiuchi. The astronomers also saw nearly a dozen X-ray flares over a 27-hour period (*see figure 1 and movie).

"Virtually all the Class I protostars in the rho molecular cloud may emit X rays with extremely violent and frequent flare activity," said Kensuke Imanishi of Kyoto University, lead investigator of the rho Ophiuchi observation. "The X-ray fluxes in the flares we saw were up to 10,000 to 100,000 brighter than those in our Sun's flares."

Probing deeply with Chandra into a different star-formation region, 1400 light years from Earth in constellation Orion, a second team of astronomers led by Tsuboi observed for the first time activity from Class-0 protostars. Up until now, only the protostar envelope had been seen. In the Class-0 phase, a dense molecular cloud and heavy accretion of gas onto the newly forming star enshroud the region and attenuate even the most penetrating X rays. Chandra, however, had the sensitivity to detect X-ray activity.

"The X rays are heavily absorbed, possibly by a large amount of cloud gas," said Tsuboi. "It proves that the X rays come really from the center of the cloud core, from the protostar itself. We therefore discovered X rays even in the Class-0 phase."

"Far beyond our imagination, a star immediately after the birth at the center of a cold molecular core at temperatures of only a few tens of Kelvin [-400 degrees Fahrenheit] frequently generates very hot plasma with 10 to 100 million Kelvin," said Katsuji Koyama of Kyoto University, director of these two observations.

Koyama said that the violent X-ray flares on protostars may be generated by a coupled action of stellar spin and convection. These become less active as a star condenses to ignite the hydrogen burning and finally settles to a quiet phase like the Sun.

In fact, our Sun was born about five billion years ago in a molecular cloud core, which also created the rest of the solar system, including the Earth. The infant Sun was also prone to fierce X-ray tantrums. Once the Sun's core was hot and dense enough to initiate hydrogen fusion, after about a few million years, the Sun became a steadier source of energy. This steadiness allowed life to develop on Earth.

The research team for the Orion Molecular Clouds also includes Kenji Hamaguchi at Kyoto University; Ken'ichi Tatematsu and Yutaro Sekimoto at Nobeyama Radio Observatory, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan; and John Bally and Bo Reipurth at University of Colorado.

The Chandra observations were made using the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS), conceived and developed for NASA by Penn State and Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the leadership of Penn State Professor Gordon Garmire. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program. TRW, Inc., Redondo Beach, California, is the prime contractor for the spacecraft. The Smithsonian's Chandra X-ray Center controls science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

###

For images, refer to http://www.astro.psu.edu/users/tsuboi/HEADpress/pressRelease

* A movie and other images, which will be introduced at the press conference, are available at http://www.astro.psu.edu./users/tsuboi/HEADpress/pressConf/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "X-Ray Snapshots Capture The First Cries Of Baby Stars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001110071006.htm>.
Penn State. (2000, November 10). X-Ray Snapshots Capture The First Cries Of Baby Stars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001110071006.htm
Penn State. "X-Ray Snapshots Capture The First Cries Of Baby Stars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001110071006.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — The mission is China's next step toward automated sample-return missions and eventual manned missions to the moon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins