Astronomers Take the First Clear Look Inside a Turbulent Stellar Nursery
Thursday, July 22, 2010
News Feature

(Written by Christine Pulliam, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, for Science at the Smithsonian, a website featuring highlights of scientific research at the Smithsonian Institution.)

A team of scientists led by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer Jaime Pineda has managed to get a clearer look into the turbulent and murky environment of a stellar nursery in the constellation Perseus. The result is the first observation ever of a critical step in the creation of stars.

Understanding star formation is a key quest in astronomy. Theorists have models for the process, but as with all sciences, observations must be made to support or modify these ideas.

Stars form inside relatively dense concentrations of interstellar gas and dust called molecular clouds. Within such clouds, material roils and bubbles like a boiling soup.