Astronomers used the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to study a massive young star called W75N(B)-VLA 2, and learned how massive stars (the subject is eight times more massive than the Sun) develop in the earliest stages of their formation.
They compared an image made in 2014 with an earlier VLA image from 1996. The pair of images of the young star about 4,200 light-years from Earth, is providing astronomers with a unique “real-time” look.
Carlos Carrasco-Gonzalez of the Center of Radioastronomy and Astrophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico says, “The comparison is remarkable.”
The 1996 image shows a compact region of a hot ionized wind ejected from the young star. The 2014 image shows that ejected wind deformed into a distinctly elongated outflow. When the star is born, the hot ionized wind it ejects expands in all directions and form a spherical shell around it. But when it hits the dusty, donut-shaped torus encircling it, wind expands outward toward the poles of the torus where there is less resistance. This formation sequence matches what the scientists had predicted earlier.
Carrasco-Gonzalez said, “It’s going to be really great to be able to watch one as it changes. We expect to learn a lot from this object.” The findings are detailed in this article in Science.