Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How small cosmic seeds grow into big stars

Date:
February 26, 2014
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Summary:
New images provide the most detailed view yet of stellar nurseries within the Snake nebula. These images offer new insights into how cosmic seeds can grow into massive stars. Stretching across almost 100 light-years of space, the Snake nebula is located about 11,700 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus.

These two panels show the Snake nebula as photographed by the Spitzer and Herschel space telescopes. At mid-infrared wavelengths (the upper panel taken by Spitzer), the thick nebular material blocks light from more distant stars. At far-infrared wavelengths, however (the lower panel taken by Herschel), the nebula glows due to emission from cold dust. The two boxed regions, P1 and P6, were examined in more detail by the Submillimeter Array (SMA).
Credit: Spitzer/GLIMPSE/MIPS, Herschel/HiGal, Ke Wang (ESO)

New images from the Smithsonian's Submillimeter Array (SMA) telescope provide the most detailed view yet of stellar nurseries within the Snake nebula. These images offer new insights into how cosmic seeds can grow into massive stars.

The results are published in a paper in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Stretching across almost 100 light-years of space, the Snake nebula is located about 11,700 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus. In images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, which observes infrared light, it appears as a sinuous, dark tendril against the starry background. It was targeted because it shows the potential to form many massive stars (stars with more than 8 times the mass of our Sun). SMA was used to observe sub-millimetre radiation from the nebula, radiation emitted between the infrared and radio parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

"To learn how stars form, we have to catch them in their earliest phases, while they're still deeply embedded in clouds of gas and dust, and the SMA is an excellent telescope to do so," explained lead author Ke Wang of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), who started the research as a predoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

The team studied two specific spots within the Snake nebula, designated P1 and P6. Within those two regions they detected a total of 23 cosmic "seeds" -- faintly glowing spots that will eventually give birth to between one and a few stars. The seeds generally weigh between 5 and 25 times the mass of the Sun, and each spans a few hundred billion kilometres (for comparison the average Earth-Sun distance is 150 million km). The sensitive, high-resolution SMA images not only unveil the small seeds, but also differentiate them in age.

Previous theories proposed that high-mass stars form within very massive, isolated "cores" weighing at least 100 times the mass of the Sun. These new results show that that is not the case. The data also demonstrate that massive stars aren't born alone but in groups.

"High-mass stars form in villages," said co-author Qizhou Zhang of the CfA. "It's a family affair."

The team was surprised to find that these two nebular patches had fragmented into individual star seeds so early in the star formation process. They also detected bipolar outflows and other signs of active, ongoing star formation. Eventually, the Snake nebula will dissolve and shine as a chain of several star clusters.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ke Wang, Qizhou Zhang, Leonardo Testi, Floris van der Tak, Yuefang Wu, Huawei Zhang, Thushara Pillai, Friedrich Wyrowski, Sean Carey, Sarah E. Ragan and Thomas Henning. Hierarchical fragmentation and differential star formation in the Galactic ‘Snake’: infrared dark cloud G11.11−0.12. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2014 (in press) DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stu127

Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "How small cosmic seeds grow into big stars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226074935.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). (2014, February 26). How small cosmic seeds grow into big stars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226074935.htm
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "How small cosmic seeds grow into big stars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226074935.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX on Tuesday to build America's next spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2017, opening the way to a new chapter in human spaceflight. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Picks Boeing and SpaceX to Ferry Astronauts

NASA Picks Boeing and SpaceX to Ferry Astronauts

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) NASA is a giant step closer to launching Americans again from U.S. soil. It has announced it has picked Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the International Space Station in the next few years. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
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