Sunday, January 31, 2016

Chinese Astronomers Offer New Insight on Star Formation

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows Sh 2-106, or S106 for short. This is a compact star forming region in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan). A newly-formed star called S106 IR is shrouded in dust at the center of the image, and is responsible for the surrounding gas cloud’s hourglass-like shape and the turbulence visible within. Light from glowing hydrogen is colored blue in this image. Credit: NASA/ESA

Chinese astronomers have discovered newborn stars arising in clusters as they "adopt" interstellar gases, providing a new explanation for how stars form. Astronomers have long thought clusters could only form stars in bulk at once in the first millions of years of their "lives". However, recent discoveries of multiple star populations at different ages in clusters have made astronomers question the conventional theory of star birth.

To solve the puzzle, a research team led by Deng Licai, astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), studied data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope for one year.

Their study has, for the first time, found young populations of stars within clusters have developed from star-forming gas flowing in from outside of the clusters themselves,standing in contrast to the conventional idea of the clusters' initial stars shedding gas as they age in order to form next generation of stars.

"The young stellar populations, which originated from gas external to the clusters, are like the adopted children of the clusters," said Deng

The research was published in the online edition of top science journal Nature on Thursday.

Credit: xinhuanet.com

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