Fantastic Fireworks Of Star-Birth

From Earth we can only observe our starlit Milky Way Galaxy from the inside, and the interior of our Galaxy is shrouded by obscuring dust, which veils our view of most of the dancing, dazzling multitude of stars–except for those that are nearest to us. However, the sky can be very different elsewhere. Drifting their solitary, strange way away from their galactic homes, orphan stars have fantastic skies from which their entire galaxy can be observed by looking back from where they came from! In September 2015, a spectacular new Gemini Observatory image unveiled the brilliant “fireworks” that result from the birth of fiery baby stars, and this image captures in unprecedented detail the fascinating structures of a gas jet complex traveling away from a stellar nursery at supersonic speeds. The image hints at a dynamic and somewhat “messy” process of star birth, and the Gemini astronomers believe that they have also discovered a dazzling collection of runaway stellar sparklers that were sent screaming away from all this activity, to wander lost and lonely away from their galactic home.

The Gemini Observatory images show in great detail emerging gas jets flowing out from a region of brilliant neonatal stars. The region, termed the Herbig-Haro 24 (HH 24) Complex, hosts six jets emerging from a small cluster of baby stars that are embedded in a molecular cloud in the direction of the constellation Orion.

“This is the highest concentration of jets known anywhere. We also think the very dynamic environment causes some of the lowest mass stars in the area to be expelled, and our Gemini data are supporting that idea,” explained Principal Investigator Dr. Bo Reipurth in a September 29, 2015 Gemini Observatory Press Release. Dr. Reipurth is of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy (IfA).

Dr. Reipurth along with his colleague, Dr. Colin Aspin, who is also at the IfA, are using the Gemini North data obtained from the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS), as well as the Gemini Near-Infrared Imager, to study the star-filled region which was discovered back in 1963 by George Herbig and Len Kuhl. The Gemini North Observatory is poised at the summit of the dormant Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.

Cradled within the Orion B cloud, at a distance of about 1,300 light-years from our Solar System, this stellar nursery contains a treasure trove of sparkling baby stars. This region has also been studied extensively in all types of light, from radio waves to X-rays.

Stellar Cradles

All baby stars are born the same way–through the gravitational collapse of a cold, and especially dense region embedded within one of the many enormous, dark, phantom-like molecular clouds that haunt our Cosmos. These writhing dark clouds are composed of gas and dust, and they are the bizarre cradles of newborn baby stars. Although it may seem counterintuitive, things have to be very cold for a hot baby star to be born. The frigid, dark molecular clouds themselves contain the relics of older generations of stars that died long ago, and this material is then incorporated into the newborn baby stars of later generations. 바카라사이트

Our Milky Way Galaxy’s billions of stars were all born this way–through the gravitational collapse of a dense knot nested tenderly within the swirling, undulating billows of a frigid, dark molecular cloud. In the secretive floating folds of these ghostly clouds, that are composed primarily of hydrogen gas, delicate threads of material form and lazily, gently merge together, growing for hundreds of thousands of years. Then, squeezed fiercely by the relentless pull of gravity, the hydrogen atoms dramatically, suddenly fuse, igniting the newborn star’s stellar fires. This fire will continue to burn for as long as the baby star lives.

The primordial Universe was a strange stretch of amazing, featureless darkness. The very first generation of stellar sparklers probably did not catch fire until about 100 million years after the inflationary Big Bang birth of the Universe that is thought to have occurred almost 14 billion years ago. Astronomers have, for a very long time, devised various theories explaining how this very dramatic alteration from featureless blackness to light came about.

Alas, the study of the primordial Universe is difficult because observations of the Universe during that very ancient time do not exist. Supercomputer simulations, however, have provided some understanding of this mysterious dark era, showing that the first generation of stars should have been born between 100 million and 250 million years after the Big Bang.

On any given clear dark midnight, we can observe only a small fraction of our Galaxy’s starlit splendor. Our Solar System is situated in the far suburbs of our Milky Way Galaxy, in one of its pin-wheel-like spiral arms. If we could only somehow be lifted out of this distant, dusty spiral arm to see our Galaxy as a whole structure–the way it really is!



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