Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astronomers get rare peek at early stage of star formation

Date:
March 14, 2012
Source:
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Summary:
Astronomers are excited to get their first look at a clump of gas they think is about to start forming stars. Unlike others seen, this one is "pristine," unaffected by the violent stellar winds and supernova shocks from other nearby stars.

New observations show 'pristine' example of second stage of star formation shown in this graphic. (Images not to scale.)
Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

Using radio and infrared telescopes, astronomers have obtained a first tantalizing look at a crucial early stage in star formation. The new observations promise to help scientists understand the early stages of a sequence of events through which a giant cloud of gas and dust collapses into dense cores that, in turn, form new stars.

The scientists studied a giant cloud about 770 light-years from Earth in the constellation Perseus. They used the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory and the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT) to make detailed observations of a clump, containing nearly 100 times the mass of the Sun, within that cloud.

Stars are formed, astronomers think, when such a cloud of gas and dust collapses gravitationally, first into clumps, then into dense cores, each of which can then begin to further collapse and form a young star. The details of how this happens are not well understood. One difficulty is that most regions where this process is underway already have formed stars nearby. Those stars affect subsequent nearby star formation through their stellar winds and shock waves when they explode as supernovae.

"We have found the first clear case of a clump of potentially star-forming gas that is on the verge of forming dense cores, and is unaffected by any nearby stars," said James Di Francesco, of the University of Victoria, Canada.

"Finding such a 'pristine' clump of gas that may be starting to form dense cores is a key to gaining a fuller understanding of the early stages of star formation," said Sarah Sadavoy, a graduate student also of the University of Victoria. "This is a rare find," she added.

The far-infrared images from the Herschel Space Observatory were obtained as part of the Herschel Gould Belt Survey key program. They revealed previously-unseen substructures within the clump that may be precursors to cores with the potential to form individual stars. The astronomers used the GBT to study the motions and temperatures of molecules, primarily ammonia, within these substructures. These GBT observations indicated that one of the substructures is likely to be gravitationally bound and thus farther along the path to condensing into a core than the others.

"This may be the first observation ever of a core precursor," DiFrancesco said.

The entire clump, the scientists say, could be expected to form about ten new stars.

"This region appears to be an excellent candidate for future core formation, and thus is an ideal area for additional studies that can help us understand how this process works without the triggering effect of winds from other stars and shocks from supernova explosions," Sadavoy said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. S. I. Sadavoy, J. Di Francesco, Ph. Andrι, S. Pezzuto, J.-P. Bernard, S. Bontemps, E. Bressert, S. Chitsazzadeh, C. Fallscheer, M. Hennemann, T. Hill, P. Martin, F. Motte, Q. Nguyn Lu’o’ng, N. Peretto, M. Reid, N. Schneider, L. Testi, G. J. White, C. Wilson. Herschelobservations of a potential core-forming clump: Perseus B1-E. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2012; 540: A10 DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201117934

Cite This Page:

National Radio Astronomy Observatory. "Astronomers get rare peek at early stage of star formation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314124211.htm>.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory. (2012, March 14). Astronomers get rare peek at early stage of star formation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314124211.htm
National Radio Astronomy Observatory. "Astronomers get rare peek at early stage of star formation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314124211.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: NASA Captures Solar Flare

Raw: NASA Captures Solar Flare

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) — NASA reported the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, on August 24th. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the images of the flare, which erupted on the left side of the sun. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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