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.

Related Articles


"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 January 26, 2015 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 January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Eleven years ago NASA&apos;s Opportunity rover touched down on Mars for what was only supposed to be a 90-day mission. Since then it has traveled 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers), further than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has ever driven. Credit to &apos;NASA&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) NASA&apos;s New Horizons probe is en route to snap a picture of Pluto this summer, but making sure it doesn&apos;t miss its one chance to do so starts now. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rosetta Captures Stunning Views, Diverse Data Of Comet 67P

Rosetta Captures Stunning Views, Diverse Data Of Comet 67P

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) The first images of the European Space Agency&apos;s Rosetta probe comet orbit could provide clues about its origin and how it got its unique shape. 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:

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