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The stellar wind from a newborn star in the Orion Nebula prevents more new stars from forming nearby. That is the result of new research conducted by an international research team led by the University of Cologne (Germany) and the University of Leiden (Netherlands) using NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
The result is surprising because until now, scientists thought that other processes, such as exploding stars (supernovae), were largely responsible for regulating the formation of stars. But SOFIA's observations suggest that infant stars generate stellar winds that can blow away the seed material required to form new stars, a process called feedback. The paper, "Disruption of the Orion Molecular Core 1 by the stellar wind of the massive star θ1 Ori C," has now been published in Nature.
Orion - Nebula - Objects - Night - Sky
The Orion Nebula is among the best observed and most photographed objects in the night sky. It is the closest stellar nursery to Earth, and helps scientists explore how stars form. A veil of gas and dust makes this nebula extremely beautiful, but also shrouds the entire process of star birth from view. Fortunately, infrared light can pierce through this cloudy veil, allowing specialized observatories like SOFIA to reveal many of the star-formation secrets that would otherwise remain hidden.
At the heart of the nebula lies a small grouping of young, massive and luminous stars. Observations from SOFIA's instrument, the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT), revealed for the first time that the strong stellar wind from the brightest of these baby stars, Theta1 Orionis C (θ1 Ori C), has swept up a large shell of material from the cloud where this star formed, like a snow plow clearing a street by pushing snow to the road's edges.
Wind - Bubble - Stars
"The wind is responsible for blowing an enormous bubble around the central stars," explained...
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