Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO WORLDS
A Look Into The Hellish Cradles Of Suns And Solar Systems
by Staff Writers
Garching, Germany (ESO) Aug 20, 2009


Colour composite image of the central part of the stellar cluster RCW 38, around the young, massive star IRS2, taken with the NACO adaptive optics instrument attached to ESO's Very Large Telescope. Thanks to this image, astronomers were able to discover that IRS2 is in fact a twin system composed of two almost equally massive stars. The astronomers also found a handful of protostars - the faintly luminous precursors to fully realised stars - and dozens of other candidate stars that have eked out an existence here despite the powerful ultraviolet light radiated by IRS2. (ESO image)

New images released by ESO delve into the heart of a cosmic cloud, called RCW 38, crowded with budding stars and planetary systems. There, young, titanic stars bombard fledgling suns and planets with powerful winds and blazing light, helped in their devastating task by short-lived, massive stars that explode as supernovae. In some cases, this energetic onslaught cooks away the matter that may eventually form new solar systems. Scientists think that our own Solar System emerged from such a dramatic environment.

The dense star cluster RCW 38 glistens about 5500 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Vela (the Sails). Like the Orion Nebula Cluster (ESO 12/01), RCW 38 is an "embedded cluster", in that the nascent cloud of dust and gas still envelops its stars. Astronomers have determined that most stars, including the low mass, reddish ones that outnumber all others in the Universe, originate in these matter-rich locations.

Accordingly, embedded clusters provide scientists with a living laboratory in which to explore the mechanisms of star and planetary formation.

"By looking at star clusters like RCW 38, we can learn a great deal about the origins of our Solar System and others, as well as those stars and planets that have yet to come", said Kim DeRose, first author of the new study that appears in the Astronomical Journal. DeRose did her work on RCW 38 while an undergraduate student at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA.

Using the NACO adaptive optics instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope [1] the astronomers obtained the sharpest image yet of RCW 38. They focused on a small area in the centre of the cluster that surrounds the massive star IRS2, which glows in the searing, white-blue range, the hottest surface color and temperatures possible for stars.

These dramatic observations revealed that IRS2 is actually not one, but two stars - a binary system consisting of twin scorching stars, separated by about 500 times the Earth--Sun distance.

In the NACO image, the astronomers found a handful of protostars - the faintly luminous precursors to fully realized stars - and dozens of other candidate stars that have eked out an existence here despite the powerful ultraviolet light radiated by IRS2. Some of these gestating stars may, however, not get past the protostar stage.

IRS2's strong radiation energizes and disperses the material that might otherwise collapse into new stars, or that has settled into so-called protoplanetary discs around developing stars. In the course of several million years, the surviving discs may give rise to the planets, moons and comets that make up planetary systems like our own.

As if intense ultraviolet rays were not enough, crowded stellar nurseries like RCW 38 also subject their brood to frequent supernovae, as giant stars explode at the ends of their lives. These explosions scatter material throughout nearby space, including rare isotopes - exotic forms of chemical elements that are created in these dying stars.

This ejected material ends up in the next generation of stars that form nearby. As these isotopes have been detected in our Sun, scientists have concluded that the Sun formed in a cluster like RCW 38, rather than in a more rural portion of the Milky Way.

"Overall, the details of astronomical objects that adaptive optics reveals are critical in understanding how new stars and planets form in complex, chaotic regions like RCW 38", says co-author Dieter Nurnberger.

The team is composed of K.L. DeRose, T.L. Bourke, R.A. Gutermuth and S.J. Wolk (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), S.T. Megeath (Department of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Toledo, USA), J. Alves (Centro Astronomico Hispano Aleman, Almeria, Spain), and D. Nurnberger (ESO). Paper

.


Related Links
ESO
Adaptive optics at ESO
VLT at ESO
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EXO WORLDS
New Planet Orbits Backwards
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Aug 17, 2009
A team of scientists has found a new planet which orbits the wrong way around its host star. The planet, named WASP-17, and orbiting a star 1000 light years away, was found by the UK's WASP project in collaboration with Geneva Observatory. The discovery, which casts new light on how planetary systems form and evolve, was announced August 12 in a paper submitted to Astrophysical Journal. ... read more


EXO WORLDS
The Ultimate Long Distance Communication

Microsats For The Moon

India And Russia Complete Design Of New Lunar Probe

Germany may target the moon by 2015

EXO WORLDS
Spirit Hits 2000 Sols On Mars Duty

Spirit Hits 2000

Roving The AMASEing Arctic

Planned Rover Test To Run A Week Or More

EXO WORLDS
Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy Opens

Food Vital During Long Space Flights

Tight budget quashes US space ambitions: panel

Astronauts Test Use Of Nutritional Supplements In Space

EXO WORLDS
Russia launches China communications satellite: report

China Conducts Stringent Tests Of Would-Be Spacemen

Chinese Astronauts Must Be Super Human

China bans bad breath in space: report

EXO WORLDS
ESA's Swedish Astronaut To Return To The ISS

Astronomy Question Of The Week: Why Do The Planets Break Ranks?

ESA Astronaut Andre Kuipers To Spend Six Months On The ISS Starting In 2011

Finnish President Receives Phone Call From Space

EXO WORLDS
Ariane To Launch JCSAT-12 And Optus D3 Friday

Space Systems/Loral Delivers Telesat's Nimiq 5 Satellite To Launch Base

South Korea's First Rocket Set Up On Launch Pad

Ariane 5 Ready For This Week's Launch

EXO WORLDS
A Look Into The Hellish Cradles Of Suns And Solar Systems

New Planet Orbits Backwards

Huge New Planet Tells Of Game Of Planetary Billiards

Planet Smash-Up Sends Rock And Lava Flying

EXO WORLDS
Pakistan To Launch First Satellite In 2011

Sony adopting industry standard for e-books

College e-textbooks go to class in iPhones

MEADS Receives Hardware Design Approvals, Enters System-Level CDR




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement