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Researchers have detected a bipolar gas stream flowing out of Y256, a “baby star” in the Small Magellanic Cloud. This stream has a velocity of more than 54,000 kilometres per hour. The Small Magellanic Cloud is a dwarf galaxy that is about 200,000 light years away from the Milky Way.
The mechanism of star formation is significantly impacted by the presence of heavy elements in interstellar matter. But the abundance of heavy elements was lower in the early universe than it is in the present universe because there was not enough time for nucleosynthesis to produce the heavy elements in stars. And because of this, it is difficult to understand how star formation in such an environment would have been different from star formation in the present.
Conveniently, the Small Magellanic Cloud has a low abundance of elements heavier than helium, just like most galaxies over ten billion years ago. This makes it an ideal target to understand how star formation worked in the distant past despite being relatively not so far away from our planet.
An international team of researchers led by Toshikazu Onishi from the Osaka Metropolitan University and Kazuki Tokuda from the Kyushu University used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile to observe high-mass young stellar objects, or “baby stars” in the Small Magellanic Cloud. The research has been published in the journal The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Screaming across the universe at 54,000 km/h in opposite directions! Osaka Metropolitan University Astronomers detect the birth cries—the bipolar molecular outflow of gas—ejected from a star during formation.https://t.co/oHSQ5Z2wwD#OMUScience pic.twitter.com/tFv8hBkbao
— Osaka Metropolitan University (@OsakaMetUniv_en) August 30, 2022
Such growing “baby stars” are thought to have their rotational motion suppressed by a similar molecular outflow during gravitational contraction in the present universe. This accelerates the growth of stars.
The discovery of the same phenomenon in the Small Magellanic Cloud by astronomers could indicate that this star formation process has remained fairly similar for 10 billion years. According to Osaka Metropolitan University, the research team expects the discovery to bring new insights into the study of star formation.