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Young Heavyweight Star Discovered in the Milky Way Galaxy

Aug 23, 2016 03:05 AM EDT
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A team of researchers discovered a young heavyweight star that is 30 times more massive than the Sun.
(Photo : NASA/ESAvia Getty Images)

A young heavyweight star was discovered at about 11,000 light-years away from Earth. The star is believed to be vital in understanding the behavior of massive stars in the Universe and the processes involved in their formation.

The newly discovered heavyweight star is about 30 times bigger than the Earth's Sun and since it is only young, it may still be accumulating materials in its surroundings and has the tendency to grow even bigger when it reaches it full age.

A study was conducted by the researchers from the University of Cambridge, and they identified an integral process in the formation of massive stars. It indicated that the birth of massive stars is similar to the smaller ones, like those of the same size of the Earth's Sun. The result of the research will be presented in the Star Formation 2016 conference, and will be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Experts say that massive or heavyweight stars, those with masses that are amounting to eight times more than the Sun, are much more difficult to study and analyze. This is due to the fact that massive stars have shorter lives and they tend to die at a young age. This makes them rare scientific objects in a Universe full of almost 100 billion stars location in the Milky Way galaxy alone.

"An average star like our Sun is formed over a few million years, whereas massive stars are formed orders of magnitude faster-around 100,000 years," Dr. John Ilee of the Cambridge Institute of Astronomy and the lead author said in a statement. "These massive stars also burn through their fuel much more quickly, so they have shorter overall lifespans, making them harder to catch when they are infants," Ilee added.

The young heavyweight star also called a protostar, was discovered in a stellar nursery composed of infrared dark cloud, which is a cold and dense region in space; a region that is known to be rather difficult to observe.

To be able to identify the protostar, the researchers measured the radiation from the cold dust near the star. The molecules in the gas observed served as "fingerprints" that led to the discovery of a "Keplerian" disc, one that rotates quickly at the center compared to its edges.

"This type of rotation is also seen in the Solar System - the inner planets rotate around the Sun more quickly than the outer planets," Dr. Ilee said in a press release. "It's exciting to find such a disc around a massive young star, because it suggests that massive stars form in a similar way to lower mass stars, like our Sun," Ilee added.

The research was done with the help of the Submillimeter Array (SMA) and the Very Large Array (VLA) in Hawaii and New Mexico respectively.


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