PerspectiveAstronomy

How young stars grow and become focused

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Science  03 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6230, pp. 44-45
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa8915

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Summary

Massive stars are the enigmatic big beasts of the stellar jungle. Although rare, they make up for this through their prodigious output of hard radiation and kinetic energy from winds, and their explosive demise as supernovae. The latter disperse heavy elements such as iron throughout interstellar space ready for incorporation in the next generations of stars and planets, and of course, ourselves. When present in large numbers in a galaxy, their combined effect can disrupt the interstellar material to such an extent as to change the very nature of the galaxy itself. These energetic outflows are present even during the birth of massive stars. Indeed, this is one of the main reasons why understanding their formation from the gravitational collapse of interstellar clouds is so challenging. However, new sensitive, high-resolution facilities are being brought to bear on the problem. On page 114 of this issue Carrasco-González et al. (1) present radio observations using the upgraded Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA). Rapid changes in the distribution of the ionized gas flowing out at high speed from a massive young star could provide new insights into the birth pangs of these astrophysical objects.