Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simulations Illuminate Universe's First Twin Stars

Date:
July 10, 2009
Source:
DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Summary:
The earliest stars in the universe formed not only as individuals, but sometimes also as twins, according to a new article in Science. By creating simulations of the early universe, astrophysicists have gained the most detailed understanding to date of the formation of the first stars.

This computer-simulated image shows the formation of two high density regions (yellow) in the early universe, approximately 200 million years after the Big Bang. The cores are separated by about 800 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and are expected to evolve into a binary--or "twin"--star system.

The earliest stars in the universe formed not only as individuals, but sometimes also as twins, according to a paper published July 19 in Science. By creating robust simulations of the early universe, astrophysicists Matthew Turk and Tom Abel of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, located at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Brian O'Shea of Michigan State University have gained the most detailed understanding to date of the formation of the first stars.

"We used to think that these stars formed by themselves, but now we see from our computer simulations that sometimes they have siblings," said Turk. "These stars provide the seeds of next generation star formation, so by understanding them we can better understand how other stars and galaxies formed."

To make this discovery, the researchers created an extremely detailed computer simulation of early star formation. Into this virtual universe they sprinkled primordial gas and dark matter as it existed soon after the Big Bang, data they obtained from observations of the cosmic microwave background. This mostly uniform radiation—a faint glow of radio waves spread across the entire sky—contains subtle variations that reflect the beginning of all structure in the universe.

Turk, Abel and O'Shea ran five data-intensive simulations, each of which covered a 400 quadrillion cubic mile volume of the universe and took about three weeks to run on 64 processors. The simulations focused on the first Population III stars: massive, hot stars thought to have formed a mere several hundred million years after the Big Bang.

As the researchers watched their simulated universe evolve, waves of gas and dark matter swirled through the hot, dense universe. As the universe cooled, gravity began to draw the matter together into clumps. In areas rich with matter, stars began to form. And, in one out of the researchers' five simulations, a single cloud of dust and dark matter formed into "twin" stars: one with a mass equivalent to about 10 suns, and one with a mass equivalent to about 6.3 suns. Both of them were still growing at the end of the calculation and will likely grow to many times that mass.

"We ran five of these calculations starting from the beginning of the universe, and to our surprise one of them was special," said Abel. "This opens a whole new realm of research possibilities. These stars could evolve into two black holes, which could have created gravitational waves we could detect with an instrument like the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory and, if they fall into bigger black holes, for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. Or one of the stars could evolve into a black hole that could create gamma-ray bursts that we could detect with the Swift mission and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope."

Turk added: "This will help us fine-tune our models for how structure in the universe formed and evolved. Understanding the very early stars helps us understand what we see today. It even helps explain how and when some of the atoms now on earth and in our bodies were first formed."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. "Simulations Illuminate Universe's First Twin Stars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090709170805.htm>.
DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. (2009, July 10). Simulations Illuminate Universe's First Twin Stars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090709170805.htm
DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. "Simulations Illuminate Universe's First Twin Stars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090709170805.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space Shuttle Discovery's Legacy, 30 Years Later

Space Shuttle Discovery's Legacy, 30 Years Later

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) The space shuttle Discovery launched for the very first time 30 years ago. Here's a look back at its legacy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) Researchers at Fermilab are using a device called "The Holometer" to test whether our universe is actually a 2-D hologram that just seems 3-D. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

Newsy (Aug. 23, 2014) The private spaceflight company says it is preparing a thorough investigation into Friday's mishap. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) Russian cosmonauts say they've found evidence of sea plankton on the International Space Station's windows. NASA is a little more skeptical. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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