A newly released image of 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, shows thin cobweb-like strands of gas that reveal a dramatic battle between gravity and stellar energy that astronomers predict. How massive stars have shaped this star-formation. Regions and why do they continue to arise within this molecular cloud.
170,000. High-resolution image of the Tarantula Nebula located light year From Earth The Atacama is made up of data collected by the Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Located in Great Magellanic Clouda satellite galaxy of GalaxyThe Tarantula Nebula is one of the brightest star-forming regions in our galactic backyard. It is also one of the most active in terms of the birth of new stars, some of which have more than 150 times the mass. Sunday, At the center of the Large Magellanic Cloud is a stellar nursery that has given birth to 800,000 stars – half a million of which are hot, young and massive stars.
it makes nebula A prime target for researchers who want to study star formation, and it has another unique property that makes it an exciting prospect for research studies.
“What makes 30 Doradus unique is that it is close enough for us to study in detail how stars form, and yet its properties are very similar to those found far away. galaxies When the universe was young,” European Space Agency (ESA) scientist Guido de Marchi, a European Space Agency scientist and co-author of a paper describing the work, said in the statement. “Thanks to 30 Doradus, we can study how stars formed 10 billion years ago, when most stars were born.”
The fight to give birth to more massive stars
The “push and pull” the researchers observed is created by energy provided by vast populations of stars and gravity, with the former slowing the fast gas clouds into strand-like pieces, and the latter slowing the gas clouds. Trying to bring them together. Stars.
Tony Wong, a professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana, said, “These fragments may be remnants of once-larger clouds that have been stripped of enormous energy being released by young and massive stars, a process called feedback. goes.” – said champagne European Southern Observatory (ESO) Press Release (opens in new tab),
The findings also showed that despite the intense stellar feedback, gravity is still shaping the nebula – which lies 170,000 light-years from Earth and next to the Milky Way – and is driving the continued formation of massive stars. Is.
This contradicts previous consensus on such star-forming regions that have suggested that the thin strands of gas visible in the Tarantula Nebula must be greatly disrupted by this reaction so that gravity can pull it together and form new stars. can do.
“Our results imply that even in the presence of a very strong reaction, gravity can exert a strong influence and lead to the continuation of star formation,” Wong continued.
Observing a Tarantula’s Web Clump by Clump
Given its properties, it is not surprising that the Tarantula Nebula is well studied. What makes this new research different is that while previous studies have focused mostly on its center – the site of the densest gas and thus the fastest star formation – astronomers know that other regions of the nebula also form stars. Being formed, this team collected high-resolution observations of a large area of the Tarantula Nebula instead of focusing on its heart. With this global view of the nebula in mind, he then plucked it into clusters, revealing a surprising pattern.
“We used to think of interstellar gas clouds as puffy or round structures, but it is increasingly clear that they are string-like or filamentary,” Wong said in a statement. National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) Press Release (opens in new tab), “When we divided the cloud into clumps to measure the difference in density, we observed that the densest clumps are not randomly placed, but are highly arranged on these filaments.”
Focusing on the light emitted by carbon monoxide gas allowed the researchers to map the large, cold gas clouds in the Tarantula Nebula, which collapse as infant stars. They also observed how these gas clouds change as these young stars release tremendous amounts of energy.
“We were hoping to find that the parts of the cloud closest to the young giant stars would show clear signs of gravity being overwhelmed by the reaction,” Wong said. (opens in new tab) “We found instead that gravity is still important in these feedback-exposed regions — at least for parts of the cloud that are sufficiently dense.”
Overlaying data collected by ALMA and an infrared image of the Tarantula Nebula showing bright stars and glowing hot gas from the Very Large Telescope and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (Sixths (opens in new tab)To) forms a composite image showing the extent of its gas clouds and their distinctive web-like shape.
While the team’s findings provide an indication of how gravity affects star-forming regions, the research is a work in progress. “There is still much more to do with this fantastic data set, and we are releasing it publicly to encourage other researchers to conduct new investigations,” Wong concluded,
Future studies will also focus on the differences between the Milky Way and the Tarantula Nebula, including star-formation rates – while our galaxy continually forms stars, the Tarantula Nebula does so in “boom and bust” cycles.
The research on the Tarantula Nebula was presented June 15 at the 240th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Pasadena, California. The findings are also presented in a paper The Astrophysical Journal.