How do stars form? Stellar outbursts may help explain how sun-like stars develop

Computer modelling supports the idea that nascent stars brighten dramatically during growth spurts, which could explain an astrophysical mystery


2 December 2021

Newborn stars, hidden behind thick dust, are revealed in this image of a section of the so-called Christmas Tree Cluster from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The newly revealed infant stars appear as pink and red specks toward the center and appear to have formed in regularly spaced intervals along linear structures in a configuration that resembles the spokes of a wheel or the pattern of a snowflake. Hence, astronomers have nicknamed this the "Snowflake Cluster."

Newborn stars appear as pink and red specks in the centre of this image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope

NASA/JPL-Caltech/P.S. Teixeira (Center for Astrophysics)

Powerful outbursts of energy from young sun-like stars could be central to how they and their planetary systems form, according to a modelling study. The results hint at a possible explanation for a decades-old astrophysical mystery.

One theory for how stars like our own are born, known as the steady-state concept, makes predictions about how bright young stars should be when they’re under construction, continuously gathering gas and dust. Yet when we …