A team of astronomers has observed a ‘stellar nursery’ in the Tarantula Nebula, a huge cloud of gas and dust next to our Milky Way, giving new insights into the mechanisms of star formation, while also obtaining a stunning picture of the universe .
These observations provide insight into the interaction between the gravitational force that drives star formation and the massive amounts of energy that massive young stars inject into their surroundings, which can inhibit star birth. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, the Tarantula Nebula is a web of stars, gas, and dust about 600 light-years across—a light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 9.5 billion kilometers.
About 170,000 light-years from Earth, the Tarantula Nebula is so named because part of its structure resembles glowing gas, dust, and stellar filaments, similar to the legs of a spider. The gas composition of the nebula is similar to that of the early universe, mainly hydrogen and helium. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has released an image of the Tarantula Nebula, showing thin clouds of gas that may be remnants of other, larger clouds torn apart by the energy released by massive young stars .
“We’re seeing stars forming where there’s a lot of gas and dust, and there’s definitely a lot of that gas and dust in the Tarantula Nebula,” said Guido De Marchi, an astrophysicist at ESA’s European Centre for Space Research and Technology. The study author. The findings have now been published in The Astrophysical Journal. The ALMA telescope, the world’s largest radio telescope based in Chile, made observations of the findings.
“Stars form when clouds of gas collapse under their own gravity and the gas becomes denser and denser. These clouds contract and heat up until the core is hot enough to start the star’s engine, a giant nuclear reactor,” DeMarci said. explained.
“But we’ve always thought that when massive stars with masses 100 times more massive than the Sun start to form, they release so much energy that they stop more gas from getting in, which shuts off the fuel and thus forms more around them. Stars. Observations of the Tarantula Nebula show that where the gas is dense enough, it continues to fall and it can continue to form new stars. It’s interesting and novel.”
De Marchi mentions a phenomenon called feedback, in which massive young stars emit large amounts of energy into their local environment in the form of high-speed photons and particles. The composition of the nebula promotes the formation of extremely large stars, about 200 times the mass of the Sun. “The Tarantula Nebula is feedback The most extreme case we can observe in detail because it is the closest example of a young massive star cluster,” said University of Illinois astrophysicist and study author Tony Wang.
“One of the great mysteries of astronomy is why we are still witnessing star formation today. Why didn’t all the available gas collapse during the giant burst of star formation that came and went so long ago? ALMA observations could reveal what’s going on deep in the clouds , and helps to understand gravity and feedback competition to control the rate of star formation,” Wong added.
The researchers haven’t overlooked the beauty of the nebula: “Personally, I love the Tarantula Nebula, both scientifically and aesthetically,” DeMarci said. “It’s just the iconic scene in the sky. I’ve often wondered what our nights would look like if we were on a planet close to its star, with colorful bright clouds and streaks of gas streaking across Sky.”