Star Formation

Timing the life cycle of molecular clouds

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Science  23 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6344, pp. 1244-1245
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6344.1244-a

A detailed view of Messier 33, the Triangulum Galaxy


Giant molecular clouds (GMCs) are large gravitationally bound assemblies of gas and dust in galaxies. GMCs can collapse under their own gravity, forming clusters of new stars; the radiation emitted by young stars then disperses the GMC and halts star formation. Corbelli et al. have identified the positions of hundreds of GMCs and young star clusters in the nearby spiral galaxy Messier 33. Some young clusters still lie within their parent GMC, while others have already destroyed it. By comparing the two populations, the authors determined how long GMCs survive before collapsing and the speed of the subsequent disruption process.

Astron. Astrophys. 601, A146 (2017).

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