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Astronomers find star birth triggered by another star birth

"We found knots of material within this outflow and were able to measure their speeds," said astronomer Ana K. Diaz-Rodriguez.

By Brooks Hays
Astronomers find star birth triggered by another star birth
New data from the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array suggests the outflow from an older protostar triggered the birth of a second, younger protostar. Photo by NRAO/AUI/NSF

June 20 (UPI) -- New astronomical observations suggest a jet from a newborn star triggered the birth of another star.

"The orientation of the jet, the speed of its material, and the distance all are right for this scenario," Mayra Osorio, researcher at the Astrophysical Institute of Andalucia in Spain, said in a news release.

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Osorio and her colleagues found evidence of the phenomenon while surveying a gas cloud in the star factory known as the Orion Nebula. Researchers used the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array to render the star-forming region in unique radio frequencies, revealing new details about the oft-studied cosmic region.

The observations revealed an outflow of stellar material flowing from a protostar toward another younger protostar.

"We found knots of material within this outflow and were able to measure their speeds," said Ana K. Diaz-Rodriguez, also a researcher at IAA-CSIC.

The speeds revealed a timeline in accordance with the astronomers' hypothesis. Scientists believe that roughly 100,000 years ago, the outflow from the older protostar, HOPS 370, hit a clump of gas, triggering the collapse that yielded HOPS 108, the younger protostar.

There is one hiccup in the researchers' theory. The younger star appears to be moving in a way that suggests it was formed elsewhere.

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"This motion, however, might be an illusion possibly created by an outflow from the newer star itself," said Osorio. "We want to continue to observe it over a period of time to resolve this question."

Researchers shared their analysis in the Astrophysical Journal.

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