The early universe was a much different place than our own, and astronomers do not fully understand how baby stars grew up in that environment. And while instruments like the James Webb Space Telescope will pierce back into the earliest epochs of star formation, we don’t always have to work so hard – there may be clues closer to home.Continue reading “The First cry From a Brand new Baby Star”
The Orion Nebula is a giant cloud of gas and dust that spans more than 20,000 times the size of our own solar system. It one of the closest active star-forming regions to Earth, and is therefore one of the most observed and photographed objects in the night sky. The venerable Hubble Space Telescope has focused on the Orion Nebula many times, peering into giant cavities in the hazy gas, and at one point, Hubble took 520 images to create a giant mosaic of this spellbinding nebula.
Now, Hubble has captured new views of a wispy, colorful region in the Orion Nebula surrounding the Herbig-Haro object HH 505.Continue reading “Brand New Stars in the Orion Nebula, Seen by Hubble”
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When you look at a region of the sky where stars are born, you see a cloud of gas and dust and a bunch of stars. It’s really a beautiful sight. In most places, the stars all end up being about the same mass. That mass is probably the most important factor you want to know about it. It directs how long the star will live and what its future will be like. But, what determines its mass and the mass of its siblings in a stellar nursery? Is there some governing force that tells them how massive they’ll be? It turns out that the stars do it for themselves.Continue reading “In Wildly Different Environments, Stars End Up Roughly the Same”
Stars form inside massive clouds of gas and dust called molecular clouds. The Nebular Hypothesis explains how that happens. According to that hypothesis, dense cores inside those clouds of hydrogen collapse due to instability and form stars. The Nebular Hypothesis is much more detailed than that short version, but that’s the basic idea.
The problem is that it only explains how single stars form. But about half of the Milky Way’s stars are binary pairs or multiple stars. The Nebular Hypothesis doesn’t clearly explain how those stars form.Continue reading “This is How You Get Multiple Star Systems”
Astronomers using the ALMA Observatory have discovered an unusual, massive star near the center of our galaxy, a star that has two spiral arms. The arms are part of an accretion disk, a broad disk of dust and gas surrounding the protostar. While this is not the first star to be seen with such rare arm-like features, researchers say they believe they can track the formation of the spiral arms to a close encounter the star had with another object.Continue reading “A Star has Grown Spiral Arms”
When it comes to exciting places to look in the sky, the Tarantula Nebula is hard to beat. It’s got cloudy star-forming regions, hot young stars, and star clusters. It’s one of the brightest and most active star birth areas in the Milky Way’s neighborhood. It’s also got an amazing collection of massive stars. That range of stellar activity makes the Tarantula almost the perfect laboratory to study the mechanics of star formation.
It’s also worth noting that in a fairly short few tens of millions of years, it’ll be a great place to watch supernovae popping off. So, what better way to celebrate this Southern Hemisphere sky treat than a new image of the Tarantula (also known as 30 Doradus)? The one below contains recent ground-based data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. It’s worthy of a closeup look, so feast your eyes!Continue reading “See a Stunning New Picture of the Tarantula Nebula”
Some galaxies, like the Milky Way, have maintained regular star formation for billions of years. Others, like large elliptical galaxies, are “red and dead.” Star formation in those galaxies shut off long ago. Astronomers have long suspected the nefarious influence of supermassive black holes, and new research has found the smoking gun.Continue reading “Do Supermassive Black Holes Prematurely end Star Formation in Some Galaxies?”
How many of what kinds of stars live in other galaxies? It seems like a simple question, but it’s notoriously hard to pin down, because astronomers have such a difficult time estimating stellar populations in remote galaxies. Now a team of astronomers has completed a census of over 140,000 galaxies and found that distant galaxies tend to have heavier stars.Continue reading “The Stars in Other Galaxies are Generally Heavier Than the Milky Way’s Stars”
Most of the stars in the Milky Way are single stars. But between one-third and one-half of them are binary stars. Can habitable planets form in these environments?
New research shows that habitable planets could exist around binary stars, but they would form differently than worlds around single stars.Continue reading “Planets in Binary Systems Could be Habitable, But They’d Form Differently”
Young stars go through a lot as they’re being born. They sometimes emit jets of ionized gas called MHOs—Molecular Hydrogen emission-line Objects. New images of two of these MHOs, also called stellar jets, show how complex they can be and what a hard time astronomers have as they try to understand them.Continue reading “Incredible Image Shows Twin Stellar Jets Blasting Out of a Star-Forming Region”