Massive Stars Have the Power to Shape Solar Systems

This image is a Hubble image of the inner regions in the Orion Nebula, with a JWST image of a protoplanetary disk named d203-506. The disk is close enough to the massive Trapezium Cluster stars that their UV radiation is shaping the planet-forming process in the disk. Image Credit: NASA/STSCI/RICE UNIV./C.O'DELL ET AL / O. BERNÉ, I. SCHROTTER, PDRS4ALL

Stars shape their solar systems. It’s true of ours, and it’s true of others. But for some massive stars, their power to shape still-forming systems is fateful and final.

Continue reading “Massive Stars Have the Power to Shape Solar Systems”

Astronomers Find the Biggest Structure in the Milky Way, a Filament of Hydrogen 1,600 Light-Years Long

Composite image of the Milky Way's core created by Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra telescopes. Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/UMass/D. Wang et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/D.Wang et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSC/S.Stolovy

Roughly 13.8 billion years ago, our Universe was born in a massive explosion that gave rise to the first subatomic particles and the laws of physics as we know them. About 370,000 years later, hydrogen had formed, the building block of stars, which fuse hydrogen and helium in their interiors to create all the heavier elements. While hydrogen remains the most pervasive element in the Universe, it can be difficult to detect individual clouds of hydrogen gas in the interstellar medium (ISM).

This makes it difficult to research the early phases of star formation, which would offer clues about the evolution of galaxies and the cosmos. An international team led by astronomers from the Max Planck Institute of Astronomy (MPIA) recently noticed a massive filament of atomic hydrogen gas in our galaxy. This structure, named “Maggie,” is located about 55,000 light-years away (on the other side of the Milky Way) and is one of the longest structures ever observed in our galaxy.

Continue reading “Astronomers Find the Biggest Structure in the Milky Way, a Filament of Hydrogen 1,600 Light-Years Long”