(ORDO NEWS) — Last year, a team of astrophysicists launched the STARFORGE project, which creates the most realistic, highest resolution, 3D models of star formation to date. Now scientists have used detailed modeling to find out what determines the masses of stars.
In the new study, the team found that star formation is a self-regulating process. In other words, the stars themselves set their masses.
This helps explain why stars formed in different environments have the same masses. The new discovery could help researchers better understand the processes of star formation in our own Milky Way and other galaxies.
The study was published last week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The joint panel of experts included scientists from Northwestern University, the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), Carnegie Observatories, Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology. The lead author of the new study is David Huseynov, a research fellow at UT Austin.
“Understanding the function of the initial mass of a star is such an important issue because it affects astrophysics in all directions, from the nearest planets to distant galaxies,” said Claude-André Foché-Giguere, co-author of the study.
“Stars have relatively simple DNA. If you know the mass of a star, then you know almost everything about it: how much light it emits, how long it will live, and what will happen to it when it dies.
The distribution of stellar masses determines whether planets orbiting stars can potentially support life, and how distant galaxies look.”
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