Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Astronomers find stellar cradle where planets form

Astronomers at the University of Illinois have found the first clear evidence for a cradle in space where planets and moons form. The cradle, revealed in photographs taken with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, consists of a flattened envelope of gas and dust surrounding a young protostar.

“We are seeing this object in the early stages of stellar birth,” said U. of I. astronomy professor Leslie Looney, the lead author of a paper accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters. “Eventually, the protostar will form into a star much like our sun, and the disk will form into planets and moons.”

Located about 800 light-years away in the constellation Cepheus, the object is obscured by dust and therefore invisible to the eye. However, the Spitzer Space Telescope’s sensitive infrared camera can penetrate the dust, and reveal the structures within.

The brightest structure consists of an enormous, almost linear flow of shocked molecular hydrogen gas erupting from the protostar’s two magnetic poles. These bipolar jets are so long, light would take about 1 1/2 years to travel from one end to the other.

In star-formation theory, a cloud of gas and dust collapses to form a star and its planets. As the cloud collapses, it begins to rotate faster and faster, like a pirouetting ice skater pulling in her arms. The force of the growing magnetic field ejects some of the gas and dust along the magnetic axis, forming the bipolar jets seen in the photograph.

“If material was not shed in this fashion, the protostar’s spin would speed up so fast it would break apart,” Looney said.

The planet-forming region is perpendicular to, and roughly centered on the polar jets. There, seen in silhouette against a bright background of galactic infrared emission, is the flattened disk of a circumstellar envelope.

Theorized, but never before seen, the flattened disk is an expected outcome for cloud-collapse theories that include magnetic fields or rotation.

“Some theories had predicted that envelopes flatten as they collapse onto their stars and surrounding planet-forming disks,” Looney said, “but we hadn’t seen any strong evidence of this until now.”

James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons
20.03.2018 | ITMO University

nachricht Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions
20.03.2018 | University of California - Berkeley

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>