Tuesday, November 01, 2016

we spotted fragmentation

I read the article at Sky & Telescope's web site entitled ALMA Images Spiral Disk Around Baby Stars. This is amazing. I having been hoping and wondering about this for a long time.

One of the popular targets for amateurs with their telescopes is planetary nebulae. These spherical shells or bipolar structures show the end of a star. A star exploding and bursting, sometimes many times, and throwing of jackets of material and debris. We see these are colourful and beautiful objects in the eyepiece or on the camera chip. They remind us of the cycle of life. Stars igniting and heating orbiting worlds then, millions or billions of years later, burning their last atoms of hydrogen, and throwing chemical elements into the void.

We spot novae and supernovae events with increasing frequency as we improve our scanning and detection techniques. These violent events also contribute to the fabrication of heavier elements in the Universe.

The end of things.

multi-star system disc with spiral arms

Surely we're in the middle of the motion picture.

It seems to me that we have not, in general, seen the start of many things. We've not seen a solar system form, with rocky and gaseous planets emerging from primordial discs of dust and gas. We conjecture about the birth or start of the Universe. How did the first galaxies form? What made the first stars light up after the cosmological Dark Age? We've not seen a multi-star system form before. Until now.

John Tobin used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array to peer into the disc of the protostar system L1448 IRS3B in Perseus. Using carbon monoxide emissions, they found the bright star orbiting two baby stars. This is the first direct evidence of disc fragmentation. It looks curiously like a spiral galaxy. Tobin went on to show that the system is unstable at the region of the third star and that the outer star will continue to grow as it absorbs material from the system.

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