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  4. SEE PIC! NASA's SOFIA captures birth of new stars from collapse of six interstellar clouds

SEE PIC! NASA's SOFIA captures birth of new stars from collapse of six interstellar clouds

Adding another feather to its cap, NASA researchers on board it's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) have detected the collapse of portions of six interstellar clouds on their way to becoming new stars much

India TV News Desk Washington Updated on: October 06, 2016 15:09 IST
Sofia image
NASA's SOFIA image- India TV

Adding another feather to its cap, NASA researchers on board it's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) have detected the collapse of portions of six interstellar clouds on their way to becoming new stars much larger than our Sun.

 

 

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to construct and maintain an airborne observatory.

 

 

When a gas cloud collapses on itself, the cloud’s own gravity causes it to contract and the contraction produces heat friction. Heat from the contraction eventually causes the core to ignite hydrogen fusion reactions creating a star, NASA explained. 

 

This research has apparently created a lot of excitment among researchers and scientists as previous direct observations of a collapse motion have been very few in number. 

 

As per NASA, these SOFIA observations have enabled scientists to confirm theoretical models about how interstellar clouds collapse to become stars and the pace at which they collapse. Actually observing this collapse, called “infall,” is extremely challenging because it happens relatively quickly in astronomical terms.

 

“Detecting infall in protostars is very difficult to observe, but is critical to confirm our overall understanding of star formation,” said Universities Space Research Association’s Erick Young, SOFIA Science Mission Operations director, NASA.

 

By making use of  the observatory’s GREAT instrument, the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies, scientists searched for this developmental stage in nine embryonic stars, called protostars, by measuring the motions of the material within them. 

 

 

They found that six of the nine protostars were actively collapsing, adding substantially to the previous list of less than a dozen protostars directly determined to be in this infall stage, as per NASA. 

 

 

The finding were based on the observations made in the Southern Hemisphere in 2015.

 

The research was published in Astronomy and Astrophysics earlier this year.

 

 

 

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