Universities Space Research Association | 2019 Jan 07
SOFIA discovered that the stellar wind from a newborn star in the Orion Nebula is preventing more stars from forming nearby.
The stellar wind from a newborn star in the Orion Nebula is preventing more new stars from forming nearby, according to new research using NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA.
- The powerful wind from the newly formed star at the heart of the Orion Nebula is creating the bubble (black) and preventing new stars from forming in its neighborhood. At the same time, the wind is pushing molecular gas (color) to the edges, creating a dense shell around the bubble where future generations of stars can form. Image credits: NASA/SOFIA/Pabst et. al
This is surprising because until now, scientists thought that other processes, such as exploding stars called supernovae, were largely responsible for regulating the formation of stars. But SOFIA's observations suggest that infant stars generate stellar winds that can blow away the seed material required to form new stars, a process called "feedback."
The Orion Nebula is among the best observed and most photographed objects in the night sky. It is the closest stellar nursery to Earth and helps scientists explore how stars form. A veil of gas and dust makes this nebula extremely beautiful but also shrouds the entire process of star birth from view. Fortunately, infrared light can pierce through this cloudy veil, allowing specialized observatories like SOFIA to reveal many of the star-formation secrets that would otherwise remain hidden.
At the heart of the nebula lies a small grouping of young, massive and luminous stars. Observations from SOFIA's instrument, the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies, known as GREAT, revealed, for the first time, that the strong stellar wind from the brightest of these baby stars, designated Theta^1 Orionis C, has swept up a large shell of material from the cloud where this star formed, like a snow plow clearing a street by pushing snow to the road's edges. ...
Disruption of the Orion Molecular Core 1 by Wind from the Massive Star θ1 Orionis C ~ C. Pabst et al
- Nature (online 07 Jan 2019) DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0844-1