Thursday, 09 Oct, 2008 Science

Ethereal Beauty of Star Creation Captured by NASA and ESA Telescopes


Our universe is truly amazing and scientists from NASA and the European Space Agency once again proved it. In order to get a better vision of a star's birth they combined visible X-ray light generated by Spitzer Space Telescope, developed by American specialists, and XMM-Newton orbiting X-ray Telescope (NTT) created by the European scientists. The result was truly otherworldly.

By using the NTT visible-light images, scientists managed to discover the glowing gas in the area. The image provided information that pushed astronomers to new questions on how stars are formed. The irregular dwarf galaxy, dubbed Small Magellanic Cloud, features the brightest star-forming region - NGC 346. It is worth mentioning that the Small Magellanic Cloud orbits our galaxy at a distance of 210,000 light years.

By combining information at different wavelengths astronomers managed to get a clearer picture of what happens in various parts of NGC 346. They noticed that small stars are dispersed around the region. At the same time massive stars are mainly located in its center. Both massive and small stars appeared at the same time from a dense cloud. Other stars that are less massive appeared later thanks to a process named "triggered star formation".

Together with his team, Dimitrios Gouliermis of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, who is also the lead author of the paper that describes the observations, managed to identify the trigger as a huge star that exploded in a supernova blast about 50,000 years ago. The dying star generated severe winds that gathered dust and gas, which in the end compressed in new stars.

Scientists can now demonstrate that wind- and radiation-induced triggered star formation take place in the same cloud.

Source: Daily Galaxy

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