Star Birth Produces Dramatic Stellar Fireworks In Space

Posted: Apr 10 2017, 11:05am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 10 2017, 11:11am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Star Birth Produces Dramatic Stellar Fireworks in Space
Composite image shows the explosive natur of star birth in Orion Molecular Cloud 1. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), J. Bally; B. Saxton

ALMA radio telescope captures explosive star birth in Orion constellation

European Space Agency has released the images of a dramatic stellar explosion some 1,500 light years away from Earth, in the constellation of Orion. The explosion was caused by the collision between two young stars and resulted in spewing hundreds of giant streamers of dust and gas into cosmic landscape at a speed greater than 150 kilometers per second.

Enormous stellar explosions are usually associated with supernovae - massive blasts that occur during the final stages of a massive star’s life. But observations by Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) suggest that birth of a star can also put up spectacular display of stellar fireworks, demonstrating that early stage of a star’s life can be a violent and explosive process too.

“What we see in this once calm stellar nursery is a cosmic version of a 4th of July fireworks display, with giant streamers rocketing off in all directions.” John Bally from University of Colorado and lead author of the study said in a statement.

Stars are born when clouds of gas and dust begin to collapse under their own gravity. Some 100,000 years ago, several protostars lying in Orion Molecular Cloud 1 – a dense and active star formation factory – drew closer to each other due to their gravitational pull. But it was not until 5000 years ago that two of them finally crashed into each other.

Protostars represent the very early stage of a star’s life when a star is still contracting mass from its molecular cloud.

The head-on collision released as much energy as our Sun emits over the course of 10 million years. And the remains of this spectacular stellar explosion are still visible from Earth.

“People most often associate stellar explosions with ancient stars, like a nova eruption on the surface of a decaying star or the even more spectacular supernova death of an extremely massive star," said Bally. “ALMA has given us new insights into explosions on the other end of the stellar life cycle, star birth.”

The traces of this stellar explosion were first detected in 2009 with the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii. However, powerful ALMA telescope provided much clearer and detailed picture of the explosion. It helped astronomers understand the underlying forces of the blast and the impact such events could have on star formation across the universe as well as fierce interaction among stars located in a dense region.

“Through feeling, protostellar explosions may be relatively common,” said Bally. “By destroying their parent cloud, as we see in OMC-1, such explosions may also help to regulate the pace of star formation in these giant molecular clouds.”

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