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Home » ALMA observations reveal spiral arms of gas feeding triple protostar system

ALMA observations reveal spiral arms of gas feeding triple protostar system

Recent advances in observational techniques and simulations have shed new light on the formation of multi-star systems. A trinary system consisting of three protostars has been closely examined using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). This system, known as IRAS 04239+2436, is situated 460 light-years away in the Taurus constellation.

The international team, led by Professor Jeong-Eun Lee from Seoul National University, made significant progress by tracing emissions from sulfur monoxide (SO) . Their observations revealed three distinct spiral arms of gas feeding material to each of the three protostars in the system.

The study's findings provide valuable insights into the complex process of multi-star system formation. Most stars with a mass similar to the sun are part of such systems, making this understanding crucial in developing a comprehensive theory of star formation.

In particular, the researchers addressed the puzzling structures known as “streamers” of gas flows, which were observed around the protostars. This breakthrough contributes significantly to our knowledge of star formation scenarios, previously obscured due to limited data resolution and sensitivity.

The research paper detailing these important discoveries has been published in The Astrophysical Journal. With this new information, astronomers can now gain a better grasp of the intricate mechanisms involved in the birth of stars within multi-star systems.

A simulation of multiple star formation by the supercomputer “ATERUI.” The movie shows that multiple protostars are born in a filamentary turbulent gas cloud, and they excite spiral arms and disturb the surrounding gas as they orbit. Credit: Tomoaki Matsumoto, Takaaki Takeda, 4D2U Project, NAOJ

The study conducted by Professor Tomoaki Matsumoto from Hosei University and his team used powerful supercomputers ATERUI and ATERUI II at the Center for Computational Astrophysics (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) to simulate the trinary protostar system. Their simulations were then compared to the observations made with ALMA by Professor Jeong-Eun Lee's international team.

The exciting outcome of this joint effort is that it provides a clear explanation for the formation of the three spiral arms observed around the protostars. These spiral arms, known as streamers, play a crucial role in supplying material to fuel the growth of the three protostars at the system's center.

For the first time, the combination of cutting-edge observations and sophisticated simulations has shed light on the intricate process of how these streamers are generated and how they contribute to the development of the protostars. This groundbreaking research significantly advances our understanding of multi-star system formation and enriches our knowledge of star formation scenarios.

Source: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan


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