Astronomers study four protostellar cores in the Perseus cloud

(ORDO NEWS) — The history of star formation is simple. A region of interstellar gas collapses under its own weight, forming a dense protostar surrounded by a disk of gas and dust.

The protostar and the disk rotate in the same plane, and often jets of gas flow out from the poles of the protostar.

Eventually, the protostar becomes dense and hot enough to become a true star. A system of planets can also form inside the disk.

While this is generally true, the actual origin of stars is more complex, especially if protostars are part of binary or multiple systems.

One way to understand the complexities of star formation is to look at the movement of the gas surrounding protostars.

This movement can be studied by observing the radio emission of the gas, in particular, the emission lines of certain molecules.

Astronomers can measure the motion of the gas by looking for redshifts or blueshifts of emission lines.

In a recent study, Erika Behrens and colleagues studied four protostellar nuclei in the Perseus molecular cloud.

The scientists observed the movement of the gas surrounding these nuclei through the spectral lines of the N2H+ molecule. This ion with bright emission lines is also known as diazenylium.

It allows astronomers to look deep into molecular clouds. Using observations from ALMA and the Green Bank Telescope, Erika and her team measured the speeds of the gas around protostars.

They found that one of the protostars, as one would expect, has a traditional disk. But the other three are part of a triple system, and the movement of gas around them is unclear.

It is too chaotic to be explained by rotation alone. In addition, N2H+ observations track the rotation of more than just the nucleus.

In the future, astronomers plan to find out where the gas enters the system and flows out of it. They also want to find out how the three protostars will interact.

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