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Massive Star Formation

26 January, 2022 / Read time: 1 minute

This video shows one of the most important discoveries made by radio astronomy in 2021. It is about 3 images taken of 3 very young and massive protostars located in the W51 nebula, in the constellation of Aquila, about 17,000 light-years from Earth. For this, a scientific team used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in its widest configuration, that is, moving the antennas as far away from each other as possible. This made it possible to obtain images 10 times sharper than on previous occasions.

The atypical formation process observed supports computer simulations that indicated that the star formation of massive stars was not simply a larger version of the formation of stars like the sun, but a much more chaotic process. We are talking about stars at least 20 times larger than our own, in which the material that feeds them in their formation collides chaotically with each other and in multiple directions.

National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO)
Writing and narration provided by Phil Plait @SYFY