Young Stars Have a Remarkable Link with Voracious Black Holes

First Posted: Oct 14, 2015 10:27 AM EDT

Researchers have uncovered a previously unknown link between the way young stars grow and the way black holes and other exotic space objects feed from their surroundings. A new study reveals that the "flickering" in the visible brightness of young stellar objects (YSOs) is similar to the flickering seen from black holes or white dwarfs.

In this latest study, the researchers found that relatively cool accretion discs around young stars, whose inner edges can be several times the size of the sun, show the same behavior as the hot, violent accretion discs around planet-sized white dwarfs, city-sized black holes and supermassive black holes as large as the entire solar system. This, in particular, supports the idea that accretion physics are universal.

Accretion discs are responsible for the growth and evolution of most celestial objects, from young protostars to ancient supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies.

The researchers actually found a relationship between the size of the central object and the speed of the flickering produced by the disc. This suggests that the physics of the accretion must be very similar around these different astronomical objects despite them being completely different in other ways, such as size, age, temperature and gravity.

"The seemingly random fluctuations we see from the black holes and white dwarfs look remarkably similar to those from young stellar objects-it is only the tempo that changes," said Simon Vaughan, one of the researchers, in a news release.

The findings reveal a bit more about these discs and show that  there is a universal process operation in the same way across all celestial objects.

The findings are published in the journal Science Advances.

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