Q: Who killed the Star Formation? A: The AGN did it.

One of the neat things about being a professional astronomer is sometimes knowing the authors of neat papers. Submitted to the arXiv on Friday was one such neat paper with an author list full of people I respect from their work and 1 collaborator. So let’s just say this is all neat and move on to the science. So here is the paper. On a quick read, this is just another paper on what happens to gas when and star formation when an AGN gets involved. If you’ve listened to many episodes of Astronomy Cast, you might have heard me explain this before. AGN (short for Active Galactic Nuclei) are actively feeding black holes in the centers of galaxies. These giant monsters are capable of calmly devouring vast quantities of gas and dust with accretion rates (the...

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Falling out of a Cluster: The history of the Sun

Falling out of a Cluster: The history of the Sun

One of my favorite things to do with students in the late fall is to take them outside and point first to the Orion nebula, then to the Pleiades, and finally to the Hyades cluster, saying “these are snap shots in the evolution of open clusters.” Each of these systems is the home of young stars, but while the Orion nebula is very much a stellar nursery, with stars just 10 million years old or younger, the Pleiades, is more like a day care center with stars 100 million years old or younger. At the same time, Hyades is more like an afterschool program for stars 730 million years old or younger. All these systems are filled with celestial children. In their youth these stars still gather in clumps. But, as they age, the stars will drift apart until, as...

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Three New Species Discovered in the Milky Way

Three New Species Discovered in the Milky Way

hidden.gifScientists this week have discovered three previously undiscovered species: a new species of reef lobster living off the cost of the Philippines, a new source of gamma-ray radiation associated with star forming regions, and a new class neutron star+supergiant binary found the Milky Way Galaxy. Each of these three discoveries leads it’s respective discoverers to believe there are a myriad of things still waiting to found in the oceans and outer space. In our cyinical era of “been there, done that,” it seems there is nothing new to wow the mind, but these three new critters indicate our planet and our universe still have a few surprises in store for explorers.

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Star Formation

Star Formation

pillar-m16.jpgA couple more posts on the AAS are coming, but for now I want to take a moment to answer a question asked by a reader yesterday. Paul asked “I have a question about how stars form. I’m confused about the answers I’ve read or heard about. Some people say that stars “condense” from molecular space gas. As they do, they heat up and ignite. Others say they “collapse” from gas. Still others say that the gas is “compressed” by a nearby supernova. … Can you help explain how stars are formed?”

Sure. I can do that.

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