Nav: Home

Stellar fireworks celebrate birth of giant cluster

July 02, 2020

Astronomers created a stunning new image showing celestial fireworks in star cluster G286.21+0.17.

Most stars in the universe, including our Sun, were born in massive star clusters. These clusters are the building blocks of galaxies, but their formation from dense molecular clouds is still largely a mystery.

The image of cluster G286.21+0.17, caught in the act of formation, is a multi-wavelength mosaic made out of more than 750 individual radio observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and 9 infrared images from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The cluster is located in the Carina region of our galaxy, about 8000 light-years away.

Dense clouds made of molecular gas (purple 'fireworks streamers') are revealed by ALMA. The telescope observed the motions of turbulent gas falling into the cluster, forming dense cores that ultimately create individual stars.

The stars in the image are revealed by their infrared light, as seen by Hubble, including a large group of stars bursting out from one side of the cloud. The powerful winds and radiation from the most massive of these stars are blasting away the molecular clouds, leaving faint wisps of glowing, hot dust (shown in yellow and red).

"This image shows stars in various stages of formation within this single cluster," said Yu Cheng of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, and lead author of two papers published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Hubble revealed about a thousand newly-formed stars with a wide range of masses. Additionally, ALMA showed that there is a lot more mass present in dense gas that still has to undergo collapse. "Overall the process may take at least a million years to complete," Cheng added.

"This illustrates how dynamic and chaotic the process of star birth is," said co-author Jonathan Tan of Chalmers University in Sweden and the University of Virginia and principal investigator of the project. "We see competing forces in action: gravity and turbulence from the cloud on one side, and stellar winds and radiation pressure from the young stars on the other. This process sculpts the region. It is amazing to think that our own Sun and planets were once part of such a cosmic dance."

"The phenomenal resolution and sensitivity of ALMA are evident in this stunning image of star formation," said Joe Pesce, NSF Program Officer for NRAO/ALMA. "Combined with the Hubble Space Telescope data we can clearly see the power of multiwavelength observations to help us understand these fundamental universal processes."
-end-
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

Media contact:

Iris Nijman
NRAO News and Public Information Manager
inijman@nrao.edu

This research was presented in two papers:

"Gas Kinematics of the Massive Protocluster G286.21+0.17 Revealed by ALMA", Yu Cheng et. al., The Astrophysical Journal. https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ab879f "Stellar Variability in a Forming Massive Star Cluster", Yu Cheng et. al., The Astrophysical Journal. https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ab93bc

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).

ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Related Star Cluster Articles:

Is it one or two species? The case of the cluster anemones
Their scientific name is ''Parazoanthus axinellae'' and they are among the most fascinating corals of the Mediterranean Sea.
Age of NGC 6652 globular cluster specified
Senior Research Associate Margarita Sharina (Special Astrophysical Observatory) and Associate Professor Vladislav Shimansky (Kazan Federal University) studied the globular cluster NGC 6652.4.05957 and found out that its age is close to 13.6 billion years, which makes it one of the oldest objects in the Milky Way.
Scientists discover pulsating remains of a star in an eclipsing double star system
Scientists from the University of Sheffield have discovered a pulsating ancient star in a double star system, which will allow them to access important information on the history of how stars like our Sun evolve and eventually die.
Rhythmicity of cluster headache
Although it is known that CH patients exhibit circadian rhythmicity of attacks, new data add a new feature with regard to the rhythmicity of attacks throughout the disease course.
Star fruit could be the new 'star' of Florida agriculture
Cover crops may increase sustainability of carambola groves.
A star is born: Using lasers to study how star stuff is made
On a typical day at the world's biggest laser, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, California, you can find scientists casually making star-like conditions using 192 high-powered lasers.
Hubble snaps a crowded cluster
This sparkling burst of stars is Messier 75. It is a globular cluster: a spherical collection of stars bound together by gravity.
Ushering in ultrafast cluster electronics
A new computational method can help fast track the development of tiny, ultrafast electronic devices made from small clusters of molecules.
Tidal tails -- The beginning of the end of an open star cluster
In the course of their life, open star clusters continuously lose stars to their surroundings.
Cluster of factors could help predict C. diff
A cluster of factors may help predict which patients are likely to develop Clostridioides difficile, a potentially life-threatening disease commonly known as C. difficile or C. diff, a new study has found.
More Star Cluster News and Star Cluster Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons
Baboon troops. We all know they're hierarchical. There's the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there's everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power.  This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.