Squabbles in star nurseries result in celestial fireworks | Science News

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Squabbles in star nurseries result in celestial fireworks

Images of streamers of gas and dust reveal power of explosive interactions

By
9:00am, April 7, 2017
composite image of stellar nursery

STELLAR FIRECRACKER  An interaction of young stars in Orion Molecular Core 1 ripped apart a stellar nursery, sending stars, gas and dust shooting into space. In this image — a composite of data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and the Gemini South telescope, both in Chile — gas moving quickly toward Earth is blue, while slower-moving gas is redder.

A stellar game of chicken between two young stars about 500 years ago has produced some fantastic celestial fireworks, new images released on April 7 by the European Southern Observatory reveal.

Whether or not the stellar duo collided is unclear. But their close encounter sent hundreds of streamers of gas, dust and other young stars shooting into space like an exploding firecracker. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile, John Bally of the University of Colorado Boulder and colleagues made the first measurements of the velocities of carbon monoxide gas in the streamers. From the data, they identified the spot where the stars probably interacted and determined that the encounter ripped apart the stellar nursery in which the stars were born. Such a cataclysmic event flung nursery debris into space at speeds faster than 540,000 kilometers an hour.

The dueling stars were born in a stellar nursery

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