It must be nice to be a star; even their accidents are spectacular. Astronomers have shared new images of the dazzling collision of two newly formed stars. They described the pyrotechnic wreck in The Astrophysical Journal [PDF].
The constellation Orion lies about 1350 light-years from your screen.
It’s a bustling stellar metropolis, home to both the Orion nebula and the Orion Molecular Cloud 1 (OMC1), which brews up baby stars and rolls them out into the cosmos. Like any factory, the OMC1 occasionally gets backed up. That’s what happened about 100,000 years ago, when the cloud produced a passel of little stars at once. The forces of gravity began pushing the stars toward each other, faster and faster, and eventually, about 500 years ago, two of them smashed right into one another.
Paper author John Bally first spotted the glowing wreckage on a telescope in Hawaii, then in Chile. The new images, which provide the fullest picture yet, were captured by Bally and his team at Chile’s Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array.
“The OMC1 explosive outflow and stellar ejection poses many puzzles,” they write. “Are there additional ejected stars…? How were the hundreds of CO streamers produced? How much do such events contribute to feedback and self-regulation of star formation?”
Dr. Bally, we will let you figure that out. You just keep those lovely images coming.