Dissolving star systems creates a mess in Orion

Nov 17, 2010 By Jon Voisey

For young stars, stellar outflows are the rule. T Tauri stars and other young stars eject matter in generally collimated jets. However, a region in Orion‘s giant molecular cloud known as the Becklin-Neugebauer/Kleinmann-Low (BN/KL) region, appears to have a clumpy, scattered set of outflows with “finger-like” projections in numerous directions. A new study, led by Luis Zapata at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, explores this odd region.

To conduct their study, the team used the Submillimeter Array to trace the motion of carbon monoxide gas in the area. Flying away from this region are three massive and . Tracing their paths back, astronomers had previously determined that these likely had a common origin as members of a multiple system that for some reason, broke apart an estimated 500 years ago. Likely related to this, the new study discovered several new fingers of gas moving away as well with velocities that implied they came from the same point of origin near the same time. But what could send stars and gas hurtling outwards?

Nearby, the team also discovered a “hot core” of material as well as a “bubble” of empty space near the point of origin of the event. To explain the combination of these three events, the team proposes that an close interaction between the three stars (or perhaps more) occurred. At that time, the interaction tore apart any potential binary system throwing the stars outwards.

Since the stars are young and still embedded in a nebula, the team suggests it was likely they also contained circumstellar disks that had not yet formed planets. During the interaction, the outer portions which would be least strongly bound, were thrown outwards, creating the finger-like projections. Material that was bound more tightly but just enough to be torn off, “would find itself with an excess of kinetic energy, and will start to expand” creating the apparent bubble. If that bubble, expanding supersonically for the local medium, encountered a region that was overly dense, it would collide, heating the region and potentially forming the hot core.

This new discovery presents a potential first for the discovery of one or more destroyed circumstellar disks. Such findings could help impose new constraints on how planetary systems form since most stars form in open clusters and associations in which such interactions may be commonplace. Yet, the very fact that such destroyed systems have never been found until now imply that interactions sufficiently close to cause such disruption are rare. Regardless, such things will help astronomers form a better picture of the formation of planets.

Explore further: Professional and amateur astronomers join forces

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

An X-Ray Santa Claus in Orion

Nov 30, 2007

Right in time for the festive season, ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory has discovered a huge cloud of high-temperature gas resting in a spectacular nearby star-forming region, shaped somewhat like the silhouette ...

Cosmic births revealed by disks of dust

Nov 15, 2010

By carving 'gaps' in the disks of dust that create and enshroud them, newborn planets are giving astronomers clues to locating possible new worlds.

Making Massive Stars

Sep 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Our understanding of star formation leans heavily on observations of stars like the sun, namely, those that are modest in mass and that are born and evolve at a relatively leisurely pace. ...

Planets Living on the Edge

Dec 17, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Some stars have it tough when it comes to raising planets. A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows one unlucky lot of stars, born into a dangerous neighborhood. The stars themselves ...

Recommended for you

Professional and amateur astronomers join forces

7 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Long before the term "citizen science" was coined, the field of astronomy has benefited from countless men and women who study the sky in their spare time. These amateur astronomers devote hours ...

A star's early chemistry shapes life-friendly atmospheres

Apr 23, 2014

Born in a disc of gas and rubble, planets eventually come together as larger and larger pieces of dust and rock stick together. They may be hundreds of light-years away from us, but astronomers can nevertheless ...

Image: X-raying the cosmos

Apr 22, 2014

When we gaze up at the night sky, we are only seeing part of the story. Unfortunately, some of the most powerful and energetic events in the Universe are invisible to our eyes – and to even the best optical ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Nov 17, 2010
Fragmentation and ejection of matter occurs throughout the universe, driven by a repulsive force in compact nuclear objects. For reasons presented elsewhere, we suspect that neutron repulsion is the driving force that powers the cosmos.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
omatumr
1 / 5 (2) Nov 20, 2010
This short video explains the evidence for neutron repulsion as a major source of energy in the cosmos:

http://www.youtub...yLYSiPO0

More news stories

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

Kazakhstan's first-ever Earth observation satellite is to be fired into orbit next week from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana, launch company Arianespace said.

Professional and amateur astronomers join forces

(Phys.org) —Long before the term "citizen science" was coined, the field of astronomy has benefited from countless men and women who study the sky in their spare time. These amateur astronomers devote hours ...

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...

Autism Genome Project delivers genetic discovery

A new study from investigators with the Autism Genome Project, the world's largest research project on identifying genes associated with risk for autism, has found that the comprehensive use of copy number variant (CNV) genetic ...

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...