Astronomers snap image of newborn twin stars inside stellar pretzel

Astronomers capture photo of stellar nursery with twin newborn stars

[BHB2007] 11
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) captured this unprecedented image of two circumstellar disks, in which baby stars are growing, feeding with material from their surrounding birth disk. The complex network of dust structures distributed in spiral shapes remind of the loops of a pretzel. These observations shed new light on the earliest phases of the lives of stars and help astronomers determine the conditions in which binary stars are born. ALMA ESO/NAOJ/NRAO, Alves et al.

Astronomers were able to capture a mesmerizing photo of a pair of newborn stars in a stellar cluster. The stars are surrounded by two entangled glowing disks that look like a giant cosmic pretzel in space.

The latest image of the stellar nursery was captured using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. ALMA is composed of 66 radio telescopes that are capable of capturing high-quality images from deep space.

Felipe Alves from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics) carried out a study based on the latest data collected by ALMA's telescopes. Together with his co-authors, Alves published the new study in the journal Science.

According to Alves, the newborn twin stars are located in a system known as [BHB2007] 11. It is regarded as the youngest member of a small stellar cluster in the Barnard 59 nebula.

In the image, the pair of young stars can be seen in the middle of two glowing disks that appear to be overlapping one another. Felipe noted that each of these objects, known as circumstellar disks, are about as big as the asteroid belt in Earth's neighborhood.

"We see two compact sources that we interpret as circumstellar disks around the two young stars," Alves said in a statement released by the European Southern Observatory.

"The size of each of these disks is similar to the asteroid belt in our Solar System and the separation between them is 28 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth," the astronomer continued.

According to Alves and his team, the circumstellar disks are filled with gas and dust that nourish the two young stars. Each of the disks first acquires mass from their surroundings. Then, the twin stars absorb the mass from the disks.

Alves noted that studying the stars in [BHB2007] 11 provides a deeper understanding of how stars accrete mass. Carrying out follow-up studies and observations on similar systems and star-forming regions will give astronomers a better idea of how multiple stars form and evolve over time.

"We expect this two-level accretion process to drive the dynamics of the binary system during its mass accretion phase," Alves explained.

"While the good agreement of these observations with theory is already very promising, we will need to study more young binary systems in detail to better understand how multiple stars form," he added.

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