Astronomers watch unfolding saga of massive star formation

After Big Bang

Astronomers are getting a unique, real-time look as a massive young star develops, with the promise of greatly improved understanding of the process.

Artist's conception of the development of W75N(B)-VLA-2.. At left, a hot wind from the young star expands nearly spherically, as seen in 1996. At right, as seen in 2014, the hot wind has been shaped by encountering a dusty, donut-shaped torus around the star and appears elongated. Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF Artist’s conception of the development of W75N(B)-VLA-2.. At left, a hot wind from the young star expands nearly spherically, as seen in 1996. At right, as seen in 2014, the hot wind has been shaped by encountering a dusty, donut-shaped torus around the star and appears elongated.
Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

The 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, some 4200 light-years from Earth. They compared an image made in 2014 with an earlier VLA image from 1996.

“The comparison is remarkable,” said Carlos Carrasco-Gonzalez of the Center of Radioastronomy and Astrophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, leader of the research team. The 1996 image shows a compact region of…

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