Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astronomers plan second look at mega star birthing grounds

Date:
May 12, 2010
Source:
University of Florida
Summary:
Astronomers this summer will take a close look at a rare cosmic cradle for the universe's largest stars, baby bruisers that grow up to have 50 times the sun's mass.

This is a mid-infrared image of a giant cloud obtained by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The yellowish wisps to the right are remnants of gas that have been heated and are being driven off by the massive young stars within them, seen in blue. The large-scale collapse of colder gas to form a massive cluster is centered around the bright stars just to the left of the heated wisps. An international team of astronomers used an Australian radio telescope to find the cloud of gas and dust 8,000 light years away in the Southern sky constellation Carina. The cloud is in the early stages of collapsing in on itself, offering astronomers an unusual vista on the first contractions of behemoth star birth.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers this summer will take a close look at a rare cosmic cradle for the universe's largest stars, baby bruisers that grow up to have 50 times the sun's mass.

The international team of astronomers headed by University of Florida scientist Peter Barnes used an Australian radio telescope to find the cloud of gas and dust 8,000 light years away in the Southern sky constellation Carina. The cloud is in the early stages of collapsing in on itself, offering astronomers an unusual vista on the first contractions of behemoth star birth.

"We understand some of it, but we really don't have a clear picture of what's important," Barnes said. "This should help us learn a lot more about the process."

Although our sun has far less mass than the incipient stars in the gas cloud, studying their formation could help astronomers understand how our solar system formed, Barnes said. That is because many stars the size of our sun are thought to have formed in clusters that dispersed into space over millions of years. It's possible, Barnes said, that our sun traces its origin to such a cluster, and in fact chemical anomalies on meteorites suggest that's the case.

The latest findings, which appeared in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, have spurred the team to plan a closer look with another Australian telescope in August. The team will also use the Gemini South telescope, equipped with a mid-infrared camera designed and built at UF, to observe the cloud from the telescope's location in Chile.

Stars at least 10 times the mass of our sun are rare, comprising only about 4 percent of those in the universe. Most are also at least 1,000 light years away and hard to study. It's exceptionally rare for astronomers to encounter clouds of gas and dust early in the process of collapsing into large stars because the stars tend to destroy their natal origins.

"They're rather nasty tykes," Barnes said. "They make a big mess."

The astronomers discovered the gas cloud as part of a survey of 300 large gas clouds using the Australia Telescope National Facility's 22-meter Mopra radio telescope in southeastern Australia. The telescope's world-class spectrometer allows astronomers to identify and image carbon monoxide and other molecules in large gas clouds. Even with that technology, the mega star birthing cloud was the only one of its kind among the 300 surveyed.

The cloud is also unusual in its rapid pace of collapse and the amount of dust and gas, an amount so large it eclipsed the large stars that had already coalesced inside the cloud. "It is a few light years across, and it has maybe 20,000 times the sun's mass worth of gas and dust, and most of that is participating in the collapse," Barnes said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Peter J. Barnes, Yoshinori Yonekura, Stuart D. Ryder, Andrew M. Hopkins, Yosuke Miyamoto, Naoko Furukawa, Yasuo Fukui. Discovery of large-scale gravitational infall in a massive protostellar cluster. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2010; 402 (1): 73 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15890.x

Cite This Page:

University of Florida. "Astronomers plan second look at mega star birthing grounds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510114351.htm>.
University of Florida. (2010, May 12). Astronomers plan second look at mega star birthing grounds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510114351.htm
University of Florida. "Astronomers plan second look at mega star birthing grounds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510114351.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Has Finally Reached Mars

NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Has Finally Reached Mars

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) After a 10-month voyage through space, NASA's MAVEN spacecraft is now orbiting the Red Planet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX Cargo Ship Blasts Off Toward Space Station

SpaceX Cargo Ship Blasts Off Toward Space Station

AFP (Sep. 21, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon cargo ship blasts off toward the International Space Station, carrying a load of supplies and science experiments for the astronauts living there. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's MAVEN To Study Martian Atmosphere

NASA's MAVEN To Study Martian Atmosphere

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) NASA's Maven will soon give information that could explain what happened to Mars' atmosphere. 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