Yale University | Science & Engineering | 17 June 2010
Astronomers have glimpsed what could be the youngest known star at the very moment it is being born. Not yet fully developed into a true star, the object is in the earliest stages of star formation and has just begun pulling in matter from a surrounding envelope of gas and dust, according to a new study that appears in the current issue of the Astrophysical Journal.
The study’s authors—who include astronomers from Yale University, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany—found the object using the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Known as L1448-IRS2E, it’s located in the Perseus star-forming region, about 800 light years away within our Milky Way galaxy.
Stars form out of large, cold, dense regions of gas and dust called molecular clouds, which exist throughout the galaxy. Astronomers think L1448-IRS2E is in between the prestellar phase, when a particularly dense region of a molecular cloud first begins to clump together, and the protostar phase, when gravity has pulled enough material together to form a dense, hot core out of the surrounding envelope.
L1448 IRS2E: A Candidate First Hydrostatic Core
- The Astrophysical Journal Vol 715 No 2 (2010 June 01) doi: 10.1088/0004-637X/715/2/1344