Cambridge stargazers find massive new star in space
Scientists scour the galaxy and find massive young star
Astronomers in Cambridge have discovered a young star, 30 times bigger than the sun, that could pave the way for scientists to understand how such massive bodies are formed.
The new star, which is 11,000 light years away. Is still growing and could be even more massive by the time it reaches adulthood.
The researchers, led by a team at the University of Cambridge, found that these stars form in a similar way to much smaller stars like the sun - from a rotating disc of gas and dust.
These young stars are much more difficult to study than smaller ones because they live fast and die young, making them rare among the 100 billion stars in the universe.
Dr John Ilee of Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy, the study's lead author, said:"An average star like our sun is formed over a few million years and burn through their fuel much more quickly, so they have shorter overall lifespans, making them harder to catch when they are infants."
The protostar that Ilee and his colleagues have identified resides in an infrared dark cloud - a very cold and dense region of space which makes for an ideal stellar nursery.
However, this rich star-forming region is difficult to observe using conventional telescopes, since the young stars are surrounded by a thick, opaque cloud of gas and dust.
Dr Iiee added:"This type of rotation is also seen in the solar system - the inner planets rotate around the sun more quickly than the outer planets.
"It's exciting to find such a disc around a massive young star, because it suggests that massive stars form in a similar way to lower mass stars, like our sun."
The team measured the mass of the protostar to be over 30 times the mass of the sun.
The work was supported by a grant from the European Research Council and the results were presented at the Star Formation 2016 conference held at the University of Exeter.