ALMA studies newborn stars in the small Magellanic cloud

(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers at Osaka University (OMU) observed newborn stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud, an environment similar to the early universe.

Near one of the new stars, they found a molecular outflow with properties similar to those observed in the Milky Way galaxy.

Heavy elements in interstellar matter significantly affect the mechanism of star formation. In the early universe, the abundance of heavy elements was lower than in the current universe because not enough time had passed for nucleosynthesis to create heavy elements in stars.

It is still not entirely clear how star formation in such a medium differs from modern star formation.

An international team led by Professor Toshikazu Onishi of OMU and Project Assistant Professor Kazuki Tokuda of Kyushu University used the Atakama Large Millimeter Wave Array (ALMA) to observe high-mass young stellar objects in the Small Magellanic Cloud.

The Small Magellanic Cloud is characterized by a small amount of elements heavier than helium, like galaxies 10 billion years ago.

In their study, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the researchers detected a bipolar gas stream escaping from the “baby star” Y246 and determined that the molecular outflow had a speed of over 54,000 km/h.

In the modern universe, the rotational motion of growing “baby stars” is believed to be suppressed by this molecular outflow during gravitational contraction, which accelerates the star’s growth.

The discovery of the same phenomenon in the Small Magellanic Cloud suggests that this process of star formation has been a common occurrence over the past 10 billion years.

The team also expects this discovery to open up new vistas for studying stars and planet formation.


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