Twinkle twinkle baby star, ‘sneezes’ tell us how you are | Science & Technology

Kyushu University researchers have shed new light into a critical question on how baby stars develop. Using the ALMA radio telescope in Chile, the team found that in its infancy, the protostellar disk that surrounds a baby star discharges plumes of dust, gas, and electromagnetic energy. These ‘sneezes,’ as the researchers describe them, release the magnetic flux within the protostellar disk, and may be a vital part of star formation. Their findings were published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Stars, including our Sun, all develop from what are called stellar nurseries, large concentrations of gas and dust that eventually condense to form a stellar core, a baby star. During this process, gas and dust form a ring around the baby star called the protostellar disk.

“These structures are perpetually penetrated by magnetic fields, which brings with it magnetic flux. However, if all this magnetic flux were retained as the star developed, it would generate magnetic fields many orders of magnitude stronger than those observed in any known protostar,” explains Kazuki Tokuda of Kyushu University’s Faculty of Sciences and first author of the study.

For this reason, researchers have hypothesized that there is a mechanism during star development that would remove that magnetic flux. The prevailing view was that the magnetic field gradually weakened over time as the cloud is pulled into the stellar core.

To get to the bottom of this mysterious phenomenon, the team set their sights on MC 27, a stellar nursery located approximately 450 light-years from earth. Observations were collected using the ALMA array, a collection of 66 high-precision radio telescope constructed 5,000 meters above seas level in northern Chile.

“As we analyzed our data, we found something quite unexpected. There were these ‘spike-like’ structures extending a few astronomical units from the protostellar disk. As we dug in deeper, we found that these were spikes of expelled magnetic flux, dust, and gas,”…

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