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Space Science

Spitzer Telescope Witnesses Star Being Born 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-cosmic-lawn dept.
Arvisp tips news of a discovery by astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii of the youngest known star in a nearby star-forming region. From the Yale press release: "Astronomers think L1448-IRS2E is in between the prestellar phase, when a particularly dense region of a molecular cloud first begins to clump together, and the protostar phase, when gravity has pulled enough material together to form a dense, hot core out of the surrounding envelope. ... Most protostars are between one to 10 times as luminous as the Sun, with large dust envelopes that glow at infrared wavelengths. Because L1448-IRS2E is less than one tenth as luminous as the Sun, the team believes the object is too dim to be considered a true protostar. Yet they also discovered that the object is ejecting streams of high-velocity gas from its center, confirming that some sort of preliminary mass has already formed and the object has developed beyond the prestellar phase. This kind of outflow is seen in protostars (as a result of the magnetic field surrounding the forming star), but has not been seen at such an early stage until now."
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Spitzer Telescope Witnesses Star Being Born

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  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @11:42AM (#32625418) Homepage
    Unfortunately, when they say that the protostar phase is short they mean on astronomical timescales. The protostar phase lasts on the order of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. So it is unlikely that we are going to be able to have the opportunity to watch a protostar become a star.
    • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @12:13PM (#32625624)

      Yes, but seeing these phases from various stars will eventually give them the picture they need. They don't need to see the entire life cycle of a single star. As long as they can view the highlights, and piece them together in the proper order, it's almost as good as watching it reel to reel so to speak considering the long time span for the event and the fact that our span is so relatively short.

      • Yes, but seeing these phases from various stars will eventually give them the picture they need. They don't need to see the entire life cycle of a single star. As long as they can view the highlights, and piece them together in the proper order, it's almost as good as watching it reel to reel so to speak considering the long time span for the event and the fact that our span is so relatively short.

        It sounds like this one may cause them to rethink the standing model of starbirth already. But maybe it's just an odd one.

        • From the Article it seems this discovery is further evidence towards the current standing model, the standing model being the collapse of molecular clouds into a covered protostellar object. The lack of previous observations does not necessarily mean that ejection of mass was not predicted for a protostellar object of this age but that it is so short lived as to be difficult to observe.
      • by lawpoop (604919)
        What's even nicer about this is that, once we know where they are, we can observe them with even better and better instruments for the next tens or hundreds of thousands of years.

        In archaeology, they will leave parts of sites unexcavated, so that future people with better technology will be able to excavate it and learn more about the people. This has already paid off with stuff like ground-penetrating radar and pollen analysis. But the ultimate problem there is that the site is going to be used up, soone
    • If you fly there (800ly), accelerating constantly, you should see a good fast-forward movie of it (special relativity).

    • by The Fell (1804782)
      Actually, due to light not reaching us instantly, but actually quite slowly to me, that protostar has probably already finished forming, or is close/halfway done.
      • by sznupi (719324)

        "Actually"? The only difference in those two variants of description is preferred reference frame, they are equally valid. There's no place for "actually"...

  • BARBARA!
    • by slick7 (1703596)
      Is this with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson or Judy Garland and James Mason, you insensitive clod.
  • by Slur (61510)

    Earthworm Jim has a point. Plasma has some amazing properties that marry electricity, magnetism, and quantum effects. We can study some of these things in the lab, but the real fun doesn't begin until you have something as big as this proto-star. It will be interesting to see what can be learned!

  • Geologists have observed the birth of a mountain.

    The title is a little misleading, but this observation is still another significant piece of the puzzle.

  • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @01:20PM (#32626164) Homepage Journal

    TFA shows the Orion [nebula].

  • by arielCo (995647) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @01:37PM (#32626270)

    Quoth The Bible Vanquishes Science [blogspot.com] (4th result when Googling "L1448-IRSE"):

    The astronomers reasoned that it has not yet ignited its nuclear fires because it has not gravitationally attracted enough gas to arrive at the protostar phase. Despite their claim that the object does not have an active core, astronomers admit that it is ejecting streams of high velocity gas.

    Why do scientists cling to their mathematical theories when the visible evidence is contradictory? The scientific version of cosmic history denies what is visible - the visible history of how galaxies and stars formed.

    [snip]

    Scientists must accept by faith that atoms are immutable - because they used this idea to contrive their definitions, measuring units and mathematical laws. For example, scientists use the idea that atomic clocks dither with perpetual motion to define most of their measuring units. Yet no ancient galaxy shines with the frequencies of modern atoms. To support their creed, scientists invent invisible matter, invisible black holes, invisible space-time, vacuums changing the frequency of light etc. Their universe, by their own admission, is 99% invisible. No pagan myth maker could weave such incredible myths - backed by unnatural, mathematical things - never seen in any lab or photographed in any part of the spectrum.

    [snip more]

    Why is L1448-IRS2E glowing in microwave and infrared, like ancient galaxies? Why is it ejecting high speed jets like ancient quasars? The Bible states that God calls the stars to continually come out, that He spreads out the heavens like a curtain. He even says He formed the Sun, Moon and stars and placed them in the raqiya, the spreading place. Everywhere in the universe we see a biblical cosmic history - exactly as described in the Bible. The Perseus giant molecular cloud is part of a long steam of similar clouds, a star stream, ejected from the core of our galaxy. In billions of galaxies we see that orbits accelerate outward as matter keeps on taking up more volume and the atomic clocks also accelerate. In a universe where matter keeps changing, you cannot invent an empirical system that can validly decode earth history. But you can see Biblical cosmic history with optics. New telescopes continue to show a biblical cosmic history. How great will be the fall of Western science before God’s powerful Word.

  • by PPH (736903) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @02:28PM (#32626662)

    If this is the Eliot Spitzer telescope, its gonna cost you $1000 per peek.

  • Oops... (Score:1, Funny)

    by no1home (1271260)

    This kind of outflow is seen in protostars...

    Anybody else read this as This kind of outflow is seen in pornstars...?

  • I love it when... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nilbog (732352) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @03:46PM (#32627188) Homepage Journal

    I love it when there are articles about pictures that don't include the pictures they are talking about. I'd rather read about an incredible picture than see it.

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