Violent star formation in the Tarantula Nebula

It is possible to see the in the high-resolution image, created largely with data collected by the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) ALMA antenna array in Chile Nebulae in a new light, with clouds of gas giving a glimpse of how massive stars shape this regionthe scientists state in a press release.

According to Professor Tony Wong of the University of Illinois, These clouds would correspond to the remnants of larger clouds that would have been shredded by energy released from young massive stars in a process known as double feedback.

Until now, it has been widely believed that the gas in these regions was too scattered and overwhelmed by this turbulent feedback for gravity to pull it together and form new stars.

However, the new data shows much denser filaments where gravity still plays a significant role.

Our results imply that even with very strong feedback, gravity can exert a strong influence and lead to star formation. »

A quote from Tony Wong, professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Did you know?

The web-like structure of the gas clouds in this nebula has led astronomers to give it the name of a spider. The star birth rate there is higher than in any region of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

A composite image

The image is an overlay of several photos. The background image captured in the infrared is itself a composite image, resulting from the combination of two images taken by the instruments of two other telescopesIT. It features bright stars and bright pink clouds of hot gas.

This image shows the Tarantula Nebula at radio wavelengths as observed by ALMA. The bright red-and-yellow streaks show regions of cold, dense gas where new stars may be appearing.

Photo: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Wong et al.

Superimposed on the ALMA radio image, this photo shows bright red-yellow bands corresponding to regions of cold, dense gas that has the property of collapsing and forming stars.

This infrared image shows the star-forming region 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, highlighting its bright stars and bright pink clouds of hot gas.

Photo: ESO, M.-R. Cioni/VISTA Magellanic Cloud Survey

A star-forming region

In addition, the tarantula hosts some of the most massive stars on record, some with a mass more than 150 times that of the Sun. This astronomically relatively close region of the sky is therefore ideal for studying how gas clouds collapse under the influence of gravity and stars are formed. Especially since it shares many properties with very distant galaxies that formed when the universe was quite young.

We can study how stars formed 10 billion years ago, when most stars were born. »

A quote from Guido De Marchi, co-author of the article and astronomer at ESA

Sightseeing features

  • About 170,000 light-years (ly) from Earth, the tarantula is also known as 30 Doradus and NGC 2070.
  • This nebula is certainly the most spectacular structure of the Large Magellanic Cloud, the third galaxy in terms of proximity to our Milky Way, after the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy (80,000 LY) and the Big Dog Dwarf Galaxy (42,000 LY).
  • The bright glow of the Tarantula Nebula was first described by French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille in 1751.
  • The fog is visible to the naked eye outside of the light pollution of large cities.

Image of the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of our closest galactic neighbors, taken with ESO’s VISTA telescope.

Photo: ESO/VMC survey

Surprising seriousness

Until recently, sightings of the tarantula have mostly focused on its center due to the abundance of star formation there.

To get a better picture of the entire nebula, scientists performed high-resolution observations with ALMA that covered a large area of ​​the nebula and mapped large, collapsing clouds of cold gas to give birth to new stars, but also how they are changing, when they are huge amounts of energy are released through star birth.

We expected that the parts of the cloud closest to young massive stars would show the clearest signs of feedback-distorted gravity.explains Tony Wong.

Rather, we found that gravity is still important in regions subject to feedback—at least for parts of the cloud that are dense enough. »

A quote from Tony Wong, professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Our work provides detailed evidence of how gravity behaves in the star-forming regions of the Tarantula Nebulanote the authors whose detailed work is published in The Astrophysical Journal (New window) (in English).

There is still work to be done on this fantastic data set and we are making it public to encourage other researchers to do more research.notes Tony Wong.

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