Solving a 30-Year-Old Problem in High Mass Star Formation

This false-color Very Large Array image of the ionized gas in the star forming region Sgr B2 Main was used to detect small but significant changes in brightness of several of the sources. The blobs and filaments in this image are regions of ionized gas around massive stars. The changes in brightness detected support a model that could solve a 30-year-old question in high mass star formation. (Credit: NRAO/Agnes Scott College)

This false-color Very Large Array image of the ionized gas in the star forming region Sgr B2 Main was used to detect small but significant changes in brightness of several of the sources. The blobs and filaments in this image are regions of ionized gas around massive stars. The changes in brightness detected support a model that could solve a 30-year-old question in high mass star formation. (Credit: NRAO/Agnes Scott College)

Some 30 years ago, astronomers found that regions of ionized gas around young high mass stars remain small (under a third of a light-year) for ten times longer than they should if they were to expand as expected in simple models. Recent supercomputer simulations predicted that these regions actually flicker in brightness over this period rather than grow continuously. Observations from a team of researchers using the Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) over a 23-year period have confirmed that such flickering actually occurs. Read More →