Research maps where stars are born

Share via AddThis
Posted on October 15, 2013
A University of Arizona-led group of astronomers has completed the largest-ever survey of dense gas clouds in the Milky Way – pockets shrouded in gas and dust where new stars are being born.
Research maps where stars are born

Artist’s conception of the Milky Way galaxy. Credit: Nick Risinger

A team of astronomers led by Yancy Shirley at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory has completed the largest-ever survey of dense gas clouds in the Milky Way – pockets shrouded in gas and dust where new stars are being born. Cataloging and mapping more than 6,000 gas clouds, the survey allows astronomers to better understand the earliest phases of star formation.

“When you look at the Milky Way on a clear summer night, you’ll notice it’s not a continuous stream of stars,” said Shirley. “Instead, you’ll notice all those little dark patches where there seem to be no stars. But those regions are not devoid of stars – they’re dark clouds containing dust and gas, the raw material from which stars and planets are forming in our Milky Way today.”

According to Shirley, the survey is a major step forward in astronomy because it allows astronomers to study the earliest phases of star formation when the gas and dust in the star-forming clouds are just beginning to coalesce, before giving rise to clusters of stars. He explained that much of the research over the last 30 to 40 years has been very targeted towards regions where prospective stars, called proto-stars, have already begun to take shape.

“All the famous, major regions of star formation in our galaxy have been studied in great detail,” Shirley said. “But we know very little about what happens in those star-less clumps before proto-stars form, and where.”

Read more at: Phys.org



37,823 science & technology articles

Categories

Our Articles (see all)

General News

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   StumbleUpon   Plurk
Google+   Tumblr   Delicious   RSS   Newsletter via Email

Featured Video (see all)


Severe mega-droughts predicted for North America if greenhouse pollution persists
California is suffering from severe droughts right now – but scientists say it is just a fraction of…

Featured Image (see all)


Ops-Sat: The flying software laboratory for space
This replica of ESA’s Ops-Sat was displayed at this month’s Agency Technology workshop. The mini-satellite is made up…