Washington: Scientists have observed the birth of a massive star within a dark cloud core about 10,000 light-years from Earth.
The team used the new ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) telescope in Chile-the most powerful radio telescope in the world-to view the stellar womb which, at 500 times the mass of the Sun and many times more luminous, is the largest ever seen in our galaxy.
The researchers said that their observations reveal how matter is being dragged into the center of the huge gaseous cloud by the gravitational pull of the forming star-or stars-along a number of dense threads or filaments.
"The remarkable observations from ALMA allowed us to get the first really in-depth look at what was going on within this cloud," lead author Dr. Nicolas Peretto, from Cardiff University, said.
"We wanted to see how monster stars form and grow, and we certainly achieved our aim. One of the sources we have found is an absolute giant-the largest protostellar core ever spotted in the Milky Way!
"Even though we already believed that the region was a good candidate for being a massive star-forming cloud, we were not expecting to find such a massive embryonic star at its center. This cloud is expected to form at least one star 100 times more massive than the Sun and up to a million times brighter. Only about one in 10,000 of all the stars in the Milky Way reach that kind of mass," he said.
Different theories exist as to how these massive stars form but the team`s findings lend weight to the idea that the entire cloud core begins to collapse inwards, with material raining in towards the center to form one or more massive stars.
The findings are set to be published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.