Thursday, July 15, 2010

A mega-star is born

This image was obtained by Nasa's orbital Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based European telescope. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS - USING powerful telescopes peering into deep space, astronomers have confirmed a key theory about the formative of massive stars, the journal Nature reported on Wednesday.

Images obtained by Nasa's orbital Spitzer Space Telescope and from a ground-based European telescope showed a dusty disc closely encircling a newly-born but huge star.

It is the first direct evidence that very large stars - those with masses at least 10 times that of the Sun - are born in the same way as smaller brethren, from a disk-shaped cloud of dust and gas.

A competing theory was that massive stars were formed from smaller stars that merged.

'This is the first time we could image the inner regions of the disc around a massive young star,' said Stefan Kraus of the European Southern Observatory. 'Our observations show that formation works the same for all stars, regardless of mass.'

The astronomers looked at a large star known as IRAS 13481-6124, about 20 times the mass of the Sun, located about 10,000 light years in the constellation of Centaurus. -- AFP

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