The birth fireworks when stars gather matter

Stars are formed when extensive gas and dust clouds accumulate. The matter is first collected in flat discs, where it is braked and finally crashes onto the growing protosters.

The birth fireworks when stars gather matter.

The birth fireworks when stars gather matter
Drawings of the gas streams during the formation of massive stars. (German Sofia Institute)


Although this process of formation usually takes several million years, astronomers observe enough examples at different stages of development. The famous Orion nebula in the eponymous constellation, which in these weeks draws over the evening winter sky, is such a delivery room in the universe.

For a long time, however, it was unclear whether the same development process also applies to massive stars. They grow much faster, but are also much less frequent.

Now an international researcher around Alessio Caratti o Garatti from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies was able to observe for the first time how a massive young star is growing through the incidence of matter. The astronomers SOFIA, a jumbojet with an infrared telescope, which is operated jointly by NASA and DLR, used this. With the help of infrared detectors, the ascending star could also be measured by the dense gas and dust clouds surrounding it.

The target object was the young massive star with the abbreviation NIRS Three, in the constellation Orion around six thousand light years away from us. The evaluation of the measurements showed that the star has increased by approximately two jupiter masses during a period of several months. During this time, he radiated as much energy as our sun did in a hundred thousand years.

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