facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Scientists tease out mysteries of the Milky Way's most massive stars

Dec. 23, 2013 at 7:43 PM   |   Comments

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Deep within some of the darkest, coldest and densest clouds in our galaxy lies the answer to why some stars grow so massive, U.S. astronomers say.

Using a radio telescope in Chile, scientists have been looking into objects known as infrared dark clouds to search for telltale signs of star formation.

Their search is for massive stars -- those at least eight times the mass of our sun -- larger than the majority of stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

In these massive and dense clouds, they said, gravity should have already overwhelmed their supporting gas pressure, collapsing them to form new, sun-mass stars.

An absence of stars would be a hint something extra was supporting the cloud, astrophysicist Jonathan Tan of the University of Florida, Gainesville, said.

"A starless core would indicate that some force was balancing out the pull of gravity, regulating star formation, and allowing vast amounts of material to accumulate in a scaled-up version of the way our own sun formed," Tan, lead author of a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, said.

Some astrophysicists had believed two separate models of star formation are needed: one for sun-like stars and one for these massive stars."

Not so, said Tan; the giant clouds studied are quite similar to the nurseries of sun-like stars, but simply scaled-up by tens or a hundred times.

"This [study] suggests that massive stars and sun-like stars follow a universal mechanism for star formation," he said. "The only difference is the size of their parent clouds."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Featured UPI Collection
trending
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
1
Boeing may build NASA's space taxi Boeing may build NASA's space taxi
2
Proposed Texas textbooks teach climate change skepticism Proposed Texas textbooks teach climate change skepticism
3
Attic window offers glimpse of life inside a wasp nest Attic window offers glimpse of life inside a wasp nest
4
Humpback whale rescued off Maine coast Humpback whale rescued off Maine coast
5
The NSA will now map out the entire Internet The NSA will now map out the entire Internet
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback