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

Unknown extreme star formation discovered
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (SPX) Jun 17, 2015

The multi-wavelength image shows the 'Eye of Medusa' (orange) located directly below the black hole at the center of NGC 4149 (white and green). Image courtesy IRAM - Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique.

NOEMA (Northern Extended Millimeter Array), the most powerful millimetre radio telescope of the Northern Hemisphere, has unveiled its first astronomical image: a unique and spectacular view of a previously unknown region of extreme star formation in the 'Medusa merger' - a luminous collision of two galaxies at more than 100 million light years from Earth.

The observations, conducted by IRAM using the new NOEMA observatory in the French Alps, reveal a giant region (about 500 light years across) of recently formed massive stars at the center of the 'Eye of Medusa', the central gas-rich region of the Medusa merger. The stars are still wrapped in their dusty birth clouds and completely hidden from view in visible light.

Other observatories have previously mapped the Medusa merger but none had detected the existence of this region of high-density gas in the 'Eye' until now. The new discovery has not only proven its existence, but also has implications for our understanding of the origins of the Universe and will influence future investigative techniques.

Previous exploration of the Medusa merger had involved carbon monoxide (CO) - the most common molecule used in radio observations at millimeter wavelengths.

Observations of this molecule had never before revealed any detail of a potential 'Eye' region. The IRAM team, led by Sabine Koenig, tried a new way in, tuning the NOEMA antennas to detect hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and formylium (HCO+) molecules.

The discovery demonstrates that star development can be probed in stages of formation, which are currently not detectable by tracing carbon monoxide. By successfully detecting other molecules, the extreme star formation observed in the 'Eye' demonstrates the existence of more complex chemical formulations than previously thought. This discovery means our understanding of the chemical formation of stars can be hugely expanded upon.

Studies on galaxy collisions and their impact on star formation are fundamental to understanding how galaxies have assembled throughout the history of the Universe.

Sabine Koenig of IRAM, who led the team of researchers in the discovery, said, "It was a great surprise to see this region brightly illuminated all of a sudden, and see it shine with the light of thousands of recently formed stars. This region turns out to be the site of the most extreme stellar nursery in this galactic collision!"

Roberto Neri, Scientific Director of the NOEMA observatory, said, "These observations clearly show that we have perfectly mastered the new instrument and that NOEMA will allow us to uncover and explore the complex process of star formation in the most hidden places of our Universe in the coming years".

NOEMA is the result of an international effort and will operate in synergy with the largest and most important astronomical instruments on Earth and in space. It can probe the cold universe (around -250 degrees Celsius) and detect the cold interstellar matter (gas and dust), which is responsible for the formation of new stars and planets.

It is part of a new generation of radio telescopes employing the most advanced technologies available. Although still under construction, this instrument is already the most powerful millimeter wave interferometer in the Northern Hemisphere.

NOEMA is the result of considerable development of the previous Plateau de Bure observatory, which became NOEMA when the first of six new antennas was inaugurated in September 2014. It is currently operating with seven antennas of 15 metres diameter, each equipped with a unique and ultra-sensitive receiver system, approaching the quantum limit.

It will ultimately be equipped with 12 antennas, giving the international scientific community an exceptional look into the depths of our Universe through hundreds of scientific research projects each year.

NOEMA will be one of the leading instruments in the hunt for astronomical discoveries in the most remote regions of our Universe and its capabilities will ultimately contribute to human understanding of the evolution of the universe.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It

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

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Seeing Where Stars Collide
Hilo HI (SPX) Jun 17, 2015
Scientists have imaged a cluster of stars, heavily obscured by material in our galaxy, where stars are so densely packed that it is likely a rare environment where stars can collide. "It's a bit like a stellar billiards table; where the probability of collisions depends on the size of the table and on the number of billiard balls on it," said Francesco R. Ferraro of the University of Bologna (It ... read more

Moon engulfed in permanent, lopsided dust cloud

Crashing comets may explain mysterious lunar swirls

Google Lunar X-Prize meets Yoda

China, Russia plan joint landing on the Moon

Scientists find methane in Mars meteorites

NASA Signs Agreements to Advance Agency's Journey to Mars

New study favors cold, icy early Mars

Scientists find methane in Mars meteorites

Robotic Tunneler May Explore Icy Moons

How to sail through space on sunbeams - solar satellite leads the way

XCOR Selects Matrix Composites to Develop Lynx Chines

Spacecraft glitch shifts orbiting ISS: Russia

Electric thruster propels China's interstellar ambitions

China Plans First Ever Landing On The Lunar Far Side

China ranked 4th among world space powers

3D printer making Chinese space suit parts

Curtiss-Wright Awarded Contract By The European Space Agency

Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome Receives First Telemetry From ISS

Russian, US Scientists to Cooperate in Space Exploration Despite Sanctions

'Hard landing' as three astronauts return to Earth from ISS

Garvey Spacecraft selects Pacific Spaceport Complex

Sentinel-2A satellite ready for Launch from Kourou

Arianespace restructure signals major changes in company governance

NASA issues RFP for New Class of Launch Services

The mass of the Mars-sized exoplanet, Kepler-138b

Astronomers create array of Earth-like planet models

Helium-Shrouded Planets May Be Common in Our Galaxy

Hubble detects stratosphere-like layer around exoplanet

Oculus out to let people touch virtual worlds

Framework materials yield to pressure

Buckle up for fast ionic conduction

Students Hope 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Will Break Records

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news 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 All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.