The Hubble Space Telescope discovered a window into the early universe

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have discovered a star cluster in the neighboring galaxy of the Milky Way, which reveals the process of star formation in the early universe.

BingMag.com The Hubble Space Telescope discovered a window into the early universe

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have discovered a star cluster in the neighboring galaxy of the Milky Way, which reveals the process of star formation in the early universe.

Although stars cause the formation of cosmic structures, scientists still do not know the exact process of the formation of these objects. Recently, a group of researchers tried to understand the large number of star births in the early history of the universe by looking at the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of the Milky Way's moons. It is simpler, which makes it similar to early galaxies in the universe. When the abundance of heavy elements was less than today. Thus, they are considered a suitable passage for the study of the early universe.

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Independent research teams, using different techniques, discovered young stars moving in a spiral path towards the center of the massive star cluster NGC 346 in the Small Magellanic Cloud.

According to astrophysicists, this path A river-like mass of gas and stars is a favorable way for the materials required for star birth to accumulate. And the interesting point is that according to these studies, the process of star formation in the Small Magellanic Cloud is similar to our Milky Way galaxy. are very common in nature; From tornadoes to protoplanetary disks around baby stars and even a vast realm of spiral galaxies across the universe.

At the same time, astronomers were surprised to discover young stars spiraling around the center of the massive star cluster NGC 346. The outer arm of this spiral in the Small Magellanic Cloud probably feeds the star formation process in the center of the cluster, which is a suitable way for stars to be born.

The stars of the Small Magellanic Cloud, like the stars in the early universe, have many light elements. They burn hotter and run out of fuel faster than the stars of the Milky Way. Thus, this galactic moon with a distance of only 200,000 light years is a suitable example to study the early universe. It has revealed up to 3 billion years after the "Big Bang" and states that the process of star formation there is similar to our Milky Way galaxy.

BingMag.com The Hubble Space Telescope discovered a window into the early universe

The star cluster NGC 346
Credit: NASA, ESA, Andi James (STScI)

The NGC cluster 346, with a diameter of only 150 light years, has a mass of 50,000 times that of the Sun. But its amazing shape and rapid star formation had baffled scientists, so they turned to the combined power of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) to unravel its mysterious behavior. "We wouldn't exist without stars, and yet we don't fully understand how these objects are formed," said Elena Sabbi, head of one of these studies at the Space Telescope Science Institute. He added: "We have several models for predicting the formation of stars, which in some cases are even contradictory. But we want to determine what exactly regulates the star formation process. This work is essential to understanding what we see in the early universe.

Scientists determined the motion of the stars in NGC 346 in two different ways. Using Hubble, Sabi and his team measured the changes in the position of the stars over a period of 11 years and found that the stars in this region move at an average speed of 3,200 km/h, which equates to a distance of 320 million km in 11 years. about twice the distance from the Earth to the Sun).

The team was able to make these measurements with the help of Hubble's extraordinary resolution and high sensitivity. In addition, Hubble's three-decade history of observations is also a good basis for identifying slight movements of the sky over time. The data, half of which is archival and the first of which dates back to 11 years ago. Due to the telescope's long life, it has now recorded more than 32 years of astronomical data, which can contribute to long-term studies.

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Sabi said: The Hubble archive is really a gold mine. There are so many star-forming regions that Hubble has observed over the years, and given the telescope's excellent performance, we can repeat the observations and this process really advances our understanding of The second team led by Peter Zeidler used the European Observatory's Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Probe (MUSE) instrument instead of Hubble to measure the radial velocity. to investigate the distance or approach of the helix.

Zeidler said about this study: "It is really surprising that we came to a single result from two completely different methods with different facilities and basically independent of each other. With Hubble you can see the stars, but with MUSE we can see the movement of gas in another dimension, and our investigation confirms the theory that everything is spiraling inward. The movement of gases and stars in this cluster added: "The spiral is a natural and good way for stars to form from the outside towards the center of the cluster and it helps the stars and gases of the spiral path to form more stars in the most efficient way."

Cover photo: The spiral path in the star cluster NGC 346
Credit: NASA, ESA, Andi James (STScI)

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