The object, known as an evaporating gas globule, or EGG, has the same mass as the sun and appears to be evolving in a violent environment much like the one believed to have produced Earth’s sun, said researcher Jeffrey Linsky of JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Located in a region called the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula roughly 7,000 light-years from Earth, the object -- dubbed E42 -- is thought to be in the earliest stage astronomers have ever detected a star like the sun, said Linsky.
A new image of the Pillars of Creation, consisting of a Hubble Space Telescope image overlaid with Chandra X-ray data, was released Feb.15 by the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center in Cambridge, Mass. The image, which shows red, green and blue dots representing low-, medium- and high-energy X-rays, indicates there are relatively few X-ray sources in the pillars and suggests the Eagle Nebula is past its star-forming prime, said Linsky.
Linsky and colleagues from West Chester University in Pennsylvania, the University of Exeter in England and the University of Arizona analyzed visual and infrared emissions from the pillars to identify E42, the sun-like proto-star. E42 is located in the left pillar on the right edge of a node jutting out to the right about two-thirds of the way down the pillar.
“We think this is a very, very early version of our own sun,” said Linsky.
E42 is one of 73 EGGs discovered in the Pillars of Creation in 1996 with the Hubble Space Telescope by Arizona State University astronomer Jeff Hester and his team. While 11 of the EGGs have been determined to contain infant stellar objects, only four are massive enough to form a star. Of those, E42 is the only one that has a sun-sized mass, said Linsky.
“The four proto-stars that we have identified on the edges of the pillars are probably the youngest stars ever imaged by astronomers,” Linsky said.
While Linsky and his team used Chandra to zero in on more than 1,100 hotter, more mature stars in the Eagle Nebula, neither E42 nor the other three EGGs believed massive enough to form stars were observed to be emitting any X-rays, he said. “The results indicate young, evolving stars like E42 have not yet developed the magnetic structures needed to produce X-rays,” he said.
Earth’s sun is thought to have formed some 5 billion years ago after clouds of dust and gas were seared by ultraviolet radiation and pounded by shockwaves from one or more supernovae explosions, Linsky said. “The sun was likely born in a region like the Pillars of Creation because the chemical abundances in the solar system indicate that a supernova occurred nearby and contributed its heavy elements to the gas of which the sun and the planets formed.”
A January 2007 study by an astronomy team from France suggested the pillars were toppled some 6,000 years ago by a nearby supernova explosion, as evidenced by a glowing cloud of scorched dust adjacent to the pillars. Since the pillars are roughly 7,000 light years away, the French team contends they will still be visible from Earth as “ghost images” for another thousand years or so.
“My guess is that the shock wave from the supernova may have been far enough away so that E42 and some of the other stars may have survived,” said Linsky. “But I guess we will have to wait another thousand years or so to get the answer.”
Jeffrey Linsky | EurekAlert!
Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin
23.01.2017 | Ferdinand-Braun-Institut Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik
SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Life Sciences