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Star Bigger Than The Sun Is Being Formed: Researchers Examine How Stars Are Created

First Posted: Nov 03, 2015 10:08 AM EST
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Astronomers discovered that there is a massive star, about 25 times the mass of the sun, that is forming similarly to low mass stars, according to a study at the University of Leeds, in the UK.

The researchers made the discovery using a state-of-the-art telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in Chile.

"Our groundbreaking observations show that not only does this still-forming massive star feed from a disk of material that surrounds it, like young Sun-like stars do, but it also mirrors low-mass star formation in the way the disk spins around the star," said Dr. Katharine Johnston, lead author of the study, in a news release.

This new research is enabling researchers to have a better understanding of the lifetimes of some of the most massive and brightest stars, which are also known as O-type stars. These types of stars contribute heavily to the presence of elements in the universe, which include iron and gold. These materials are released into space in massive supernovae explosions at the end of the stars' lives.

Researchers have found evidence for massive star formations similar to low mass stars, but until now, the rotating disks around low mass stars were only found around B-type stars, which are 18 times the mass of the Sun.

The astronomers focused on studying fluffy rotating structures that were hundreds of times bigger than low-mass disks. They seemed like giant rotating doughnuts instead of disks, according to the researchers.

"We started to think that real disks may not actually exist around the most massive forming stars, and that those stars might have to form in a different way," said Johnston.

The researchers claimed that the creation process for this type of star may have been more complicated and dynamic than the birth of the sun.

"We found a disk around an O-type star, which looks very similar to the disk that we think went on to form our Sun and the rest of the Solar System, except a gigantic scaled-up version of it," said Johnston.

The disk that the researchers found is 10 times larger and 100 times more massive than the disks found around young stars. The researchers claimed that this discovery is no surprise. They were expecting to make a discovery like as this one, since massive stars form quicker than low mass stars.

This study was published in is published by the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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