Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Look Into The Hellish Cradles Of Suns And Solar Systems

Date:
August 20, 2009
Source:
ESO
Summary:
New images delve into the heart of a cosmic cloud, called RCW 38, crowded with budding stars and planetary systems. There, young, titanic stars bombard fledgling suns and planets with powerful winds and blazing light, helped in their devastating task by short-lived, massive stars that explode as supernovae. In some cases, this energetic onslaught cooks away the matter that may eventually form new solar systems. Scientists think that our own solar system emerged from such a dramatic environment.

The dense star cluster RCW 38 glistens about 5500 light years away in the direction of the constellation Vela (the Sails). RCW 38 is an "embedded" cluster, in that the nascent cloud of dust and gas still envelops its stars.
Credit: Image courtesy of ESO

New images released today by ESO delve into the heart of a cosmic cloud, called RCW 38, crowded with budding stars and planetary systems. There, young stars bombard fledgling suns and planets with powerful winds and blazing light, helped in their task by short-lived, massive stars that explode as supernovae. In some cases, this onslaught cooks away the matter that may eventually form new solar systems. Scientists think that our own Solar System emerged from such an environment.

Related Articles


The dense star cluster RCW 38 glistens about 5500 light years away in the direction of the constellation Vela (the Sails). Like the Orion Nebula Cluster, RCW 38 is an “embedded cluster”, in that the nascent cloud of dust and gas still envelops its stars. Astronomers have determined that most stars, including the low mass, reddish ones that outnumber all others in the Universe, originate in these matter-rich locations. Accordingly, embedded clusters provide scientists with a living laboratory in which to explore the mechanisms of star and planetary formation.

“By looking at star clusters like RCW 38, we can learn a great deal about the origins of our Solar System and others, as well as those stars and planets that have yet to come”, says Kim DeRose, first author of the new study that appears in the Astronomical Journal. DeRose did her work on RCW 38 as an undergraduate student at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA.

Using the NACO adaptive optics instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have obtained the sharpest image yet of RCW 38. They focused on a small area in the centre of the cluster that surrounds the massive star IRS2, which glows in the searing, white-blue range, the hottest surface colour and temperatures possible for stars. These dramatic observations revealed that IRS2 is actually not one, but two stars — a binary system consisting of twin scorching stars, separated by about 500 times the Earth–Sun distance.

In the NACO image, the astronomers found a handful of protostars — the faintly luminous precursors to fully realised stars — and dozens of other candidate stars that have eked out an existence here despite the powerful ultraviolet light radiated by IRS2. Some of these gestating stars may, however, not get past the protostar stage. IRS2’s strong radiation energises and disperses the material that might otherwise collapse into new stars, or that has settled into so-called protoplanetary discs around developing stars. In the course of several million years, the surviving discs may give rise to the planets, moons and comets that make up planetary systems like our own.

As if intense ultraviolet rays were not enough, crowded stellar nurseries like RCW 38 also subject their brood to frequent supernovae when giant stars explode at the ends of their lives. These explosions scatter material throughout nearby space, including rare isotopes — exotic forms of chemical elements that are created in these dying stars. This ejected material ends up in the next generation of stars that form nearby. Because these isotopes have been detected in our Sun, scientists have concluded that the Sun formed in a cluster like RCW 38, rather than in a more rural portion of the Milky Way.

“Overall, the details of astronomical objects that adaptive optics reveals are critical in understanding how new stars and planets form in complex, chaotic regions like RCW 38”, says co-author Dieter Nόrnberger.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

ESO. "A Look Into The Hellish Cradles Of Suns And Solar Systems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090819110018.htm>.
ESO. (2009, August 20). A Look Into The Hellish Cradles Of Suns And Solar Systems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090819110018.htm
ESO. "A Look Into The Hellish Cradles Of Suns And Solar Systems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090819110018.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — China launched an experimental spacecraft Friday to fly around the moon and back to Earth in preparation for the country's first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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