One step closer to revealing the origin of stars

Heaven has been with humanity since the origin of Time, Even when we barely understand how it works, served our ancestors as a tool to measure time and distance, For example, the Sun determined the length of a day, and moon, for its part, indicated an estimated duration of months. On the other hand, although it seems already obsolete, the stars indicate cycles of hundreds of years. crops and whether. these stars too they were an excellent orientation tool For sailors, giving rise to new inventions, such as nautical instruments.

However, in recent years, thanks to advances in technology and computing, we have seen that Stars They still have a lot of information waiting to be discovered., And we’re not just talking about ways to measure time and space. these little dots in the night sky can offer us a journey to the origins of universe, more specifically, to formation of new stars,

A group of astronomers from the University of Vienna has managed to take over a million pictures To map the sky of several nearby stellar regions, showing the evolution of these star clusters over a period of five years. the celestial atlas Will allow researchers to understand how plants are born and behave young stars,

The sky has played such an important role for humanity that in almost all religions it has been associated with the figure of the gods. For example, in the oldest astronomical maps, we can see deities associated with each of the constellations represented.

Thanks for this worship to the stars, today, We have a lot of information about the sky that human civilizations have seen throughout history., however, Not all information coming from above is accessible to the human eye, We must keep in mind that, the range of wavelengths that we can see is very small (from 400nm to 700nm). everything that is below or above that limit it is invisible to our eyes, This is a matter of information that comes to us from cosmic phenomena that are thousands of light years away from planet Earth.

For example, imagine that the light emitted by a distant star is traveling towards our retina at the speed of light in the form of an infinite spring. The distance between its ends remains constant during the path. However, since it comes from so far awayThe expansion of the universe will exert a force in the direction opposite to its destination What will happen to this ghat? Well, the distance between its ends will widen because the two forces pull in opposite directions. If it were waves of spring light, we will be experiencing a change of visible light to infraredWith wavelengths longer than what can be seen with our eyes.

The latest advances in technology allow us to have tools able to capture these waves and convert them into images, Using infrared light telescopes, astronomers have in recent years been able to scour the universe for new clues in the stars.

In this case, a group of researchers from the University of Vienna used the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), located at ESO’s Paranal Observatory (Chile). For five years, he studied the fields of Orion, Ophiuko, Chameleon, Corona Ostrina, and Lupus., The five star clusters are relatively close to each other. Furthermore, they are less than 1,500 light-years from Earth, occupying a large area of ​​the sky.

With over a million images taken, The team succeeded in creating a massive infrared atlas of the celestial vault, In this they have been able to see dark spots of dust, bright clouds, newborn stars and distant background stars of the Milky Way. Similarly, mosaic of images Reveals young stars in the making, Shrouded in thick clouds of dust. Based on these data, the researchers They hope to be able to decipher the complex puzzle that involves the birth of a new star,

Stars Forms within clouds of gas and tiny particles of interstellar dust, When most of that material accumulates in the same region of the cloud, A new star is formed by collapsing under its own gravity.,

Explained this way it may sound simple, but There are many unknowns that surround the birth of new stars., How many stars can be born from a single cloud? Why do some planets orbit? How do they leave the clouds once they are formed?

Since the studied areas were observed for yearsThe data obtained will allow astronomers to better understand the motion of young stars,

Besides, These data will lay the foundation for future experiments with other telescopes., such as the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) in Chile, which is still under construction. this telescope Will allow scientists to study specific regions with unprecedented precision, observing individual stars in their stages of formation,

Researchers believe understanding the formation and evolution of stars It will help us to better understand the origin and creation of the universe,

Don’t get it:

  • If we want to study the universe further away, we need to look for longer wavelengths than those covered by the infrared. In this case, the microwave. In 1965 what was called the “microwave background radiation” was discovered, which is nothing more than signals reaching us from the “border” of the universe. This radiation is one of the tests of the Big Bang cosmological model.

Reference (MLA):

  • Stephen Meingast, et al., Vision: The VISTA Star Formation Atlas. Astronomy and Astrophysics. 2023 10.1051/0004-6361/202245771


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