Observing the Early Life of Massive Protostars

First, the massive protostar W75N(B)-VLA 2 ejects matter in in all directions. Jet turns into collimated when it expands in toroidal gas and dust environment. Image: Wolfgang Steffen (UNAM)

First, the massive protostar W75N(B)-VLA 2 ejects matter in in all directions. Jet turns into collimated when it expands in toroidal gas and dust environment. Image: Wolfgang Steffen (UNAM)

An international team of astronomers has, for the first time, observed the moment in which a massive protostar begins to develop jets of matter and energy, crucial for star formation. The study, led by Carlos Carrasco-González (UNAM, México) and recently published in the journal Science, has been developed by researchers from the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the UB (ICCUB-IEEC), the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC-IEEC) and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC). Read More →

Prawn Nebula and New Stars in High Resolution

The glowing jumble of gas clouds visible in new image make up a huge stellar nursery nicknamed the Prawn Nebula. Taken using the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, this may well be the sharpest picture ever taken of this object. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula. This image also contains information from images of this object taken by Martin Pugh.

The glowing jumble of gas clouds visible in new image make up a huge stellar nursery nicknamed the Prawn Nebula. Taken using the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, this may well be the sharpest picture ever taken of this object. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula. This image also contains information from images of this object taken by Martin Pugh.

A glowing jumble of clouds nicknamed the Prawn Nebula containing clumps of hot new-born stars is visible in a new, sharp image taken with the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) VLT Survey Telescope in Chile as part of a public survey led by University of Hertfordshire astronomers. Read More →

Herschel and Keck take Census of the Invisible Universe

Image Credits: ESA–C. Carreau/C. Casey (University of Hawai’i); COSMOS field: ESA/Herschel/SPIRE/HerMES Key Programme; Hubble images: NASA, ESA

By combining the observing powers of ESA’s Herschel space observatory and the ground-based Keck telescopes, astronomers have characterised hundreds of previously unseen starburst galaxies, revealing extraordinary high star-formation rates across the history of the Universe. Read More →

Viktor Hambardzumyan on Star Formation

Viktor Amazaspovich Ambartsumian, also known as Viktor Hambardzumyan, was a scientist that most people have probably never heard of. The old Great Soviet Encyclopedia lauded his work in the former USSR, though some official Soviet documents had a tendency to blend science and politics. Nevertheless, his work on theoretical astrophysics should not be ignored.

In 1946, Ambartsumian founded the Biurakan Astrophysical Observatory of the Academy of Sciences. His work often dealt with theories that attempted to quantify the emissions of gaseous nebulae. He proposed a particular method used to calculate the amount of mass that nova stars eject, as well as the outflow of star surfaces. The individual stars he studied were not regular stationary orbital bodies. These theories revolutionized the way in which people thought about the way stars exist.

Ambartsumian’s theories often involved the concept of discrete dark nebulae. According to his research, the absorption of light in interstellar deep space wasn’t caused by the attenuation of traveling along the absent medium. Instead, he believed discrete dark nebulae caused the phenomenon.

Such nebulae make the direct observation of many phenomena quite difficult. In fact, things that they obscure can only be viewed with radio or infrared astronomy equipment. That being said, they also call into question the nature of the universe. Scientists are still learning the science behind star formation but I’m sure our progress thus far would certainly make Ambartsumian proud.

Hubble’s Panoramic View of a Turbulent Star-making Region

30 Doradus is the brightest star-forming region in our galactic neighborhood and home to the most massive stars ever seen. The nebula resides 170 000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small, satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. No known star-forming region in our galaxy is as large or as prolific as 30 Doradus. Read More →

Supermassive Black Holes May be Shaping Galaxies Faster

Image Credit: Artist concept credit: ESA/AOES Medialab)

The understanding of the way in which supermassive black holes shape galaxies is quickly changing, considering that new data is helping astrophysicists to grasp ultra-fast outflows. There is apparently a correlation between central black holes in galaxies and the velocity of stars in the system. An international team at the Goddard Space Flight Center believes that they have identified a particular outflow model that forges a link between black holes and these velocities.

The current understanding is that supermassive black holes make up the center of most decent sized galaxies. Galatic systems that have additional large black holes seem to have bulges where there are faster-moving stars. There seems to be some sort of a feedback loop between star formation and the black hole. However, as of yet, there is no real solid correlation for why this is.

Recent data that was collected by the project, though, explains that ultra-fast outflows might be speeding up these processes. While they’re not as fast as particle jets, ultra-fast outflows are probably making quicker star formation systems. One can hope that the Astro-H X-ray telescope project will help people better understand these concepts when it is presumably launched in 2014. Until that time, the Goddard Center will continue to look into the physical models behind the outflows.

Reference:
Tombesi, F., Cappi, M., Reeves, J., & Braito, V. (2012). Evidence for ultrafast outflows in radio-quiet AGNs – III. Location and energetics Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-3933.2012.01221.x

Tombesi, F., Cappi, M., Reeves, J., Palumbo, G., Braito, V., & Dadina, M. (2011). EVIDENCE FOR ULTRA-FAST OUTFLOWS IN RADIO-QUIET ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI. II. DETAILED PHOTOIONIZATION MODELING OF Fe K-SHELL ABSORPTION LINES The Astrophysical Journal, 742 (1) DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/742/1/44

Tombesi, F., Cappi, M., Reeves, J., Palumbo, G., Yaqoob, T., Braito, V., & Dadina, M. (2010). Evidence for ultra-fast outflows in radio-quiet AGNs Astronomy and Astrophysics, 521 DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200913440

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