`Young` Milky Way star shone 100 times brighter while growing up

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 22:15

Washington: Researchers have shown that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way - formed within the past 100,000 years- underwent such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now.

Using the large international telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in northern Chile, an international research team led by Jes Jorgensen from the Niels Bohr Institute studied the star and its surroundings.

Astrophysicist Jes Jorgensen, Associate Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute and the Centre for Star and Planet Formation at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, said that they studied the chemistry of the gas and dust cloud surrounding the early protostar (an early stage of star formation).

He said that in this dense cloud, a chemical reaction takes place that enables the formation of several kinds of complex molecules, including methanol, asserting that one would expect that all of the molecules would be near the star, but with one of them they saw a clear ring structure.

Jorgensen said that something had removed a certain molecule, HCO+, from a wide area around the protostar.

He explained that what is special about the HCO+ molecule is that it is particularly sensitive to water vapour. Even small amounts of water vapour dissolve the molecule and the absence of HCO+ molecule can be used to discover what happened during the star formation process.

Jorgensen said that from the area where the HCO+ molecule has been dissolved by water vapour they can now calculate how bright the young star has been.

It turns out that that the area is much greater than expected compared to the star`s current brightness.

He said that the protostar has been up 100 times brighter than the star is now. From the chemistry we can also say that this change happened within the last 100-1000 years - that is to say, very recently from an astronomical point of view.

The results have been published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

First Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 22:15
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