Giant Star Clusters May 'Adopt' Stray Gases to Create New, Baby Stars

First Posted: Jan 27, 2016 03:16 PM EST

Giant star clusters may "adopt" stray gases in order to create new stars. Scientists have found that these clusters are able to take gases "passing through" and then incorporate them into new stars.

Instead of having all of their stellar progeny at once, globular clusters can somehow bear second or even third sets of thousands of sibling stars. Now a new study may explain these puzzling, successive stellar generations.

Using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have found young populations of stars within globular clusters that have apparently developed courtesy of star-forming gas flowing in from outside of the clusters themselves. This method stands in contrast to the conventional idea of the cluster's initial stars shedding gas as they age in order to speak future rounds of star birth.

"This study offers new insight on the problem of multiple stellar populations in star clusters," said Chengyuan Li, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Our study suggests the gaseous fuel for these new stellar populations has an origin that is external to the cluster, rather than internal."

In some ways, globular clusters appear to be capable of "adopting" baby stars-or at least their materials. In this case, the researchers believe that secondary stellar populations originate from gas accreted from the clusters' environments. In this case, the researchers used observations to show that populations of stars may have been formed by stray gases in globular clusters in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

"We have now finally shown that this idea of clusters forming new stars with accreted gas might actually work, and not just for the three clusters we observed for this study, but possibly for a whole slew of them." said Richard de Grijs, one of the researchers.

The findings are published in the journal Nature.

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