The Tarantula Nebula’s strange behavior and continued existence may be the result of powerful magnetic fields at its heart.
The Tarantula Nebula, officially known as 30 Doradus, is a region of star-forming gas at the heart of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy close to the burning Milky Way with “stellar nurseries” that give life to baby stars.
A large amount of energy radiates from the Tarantula Nebula from R136, the massive star cluster near its center. The region extending 82 light-years from R136 is strange, however, in that it shows lower than one would expect gas pressure alongside the intense stellar radiation from R136, meaning that these gases are not expanding and they radiate outward as much as is typically observed. in similar star-forming regions. Furthermore, the mass in this region appears to be too low to maintain its stability.
These new discoveries could indicate that the key to this region’s longevity are its complex magnetic fields, which constrict these gases in some areas and allow them to escape in others, something NASA called “a bit weird” in a recent report. declaration.
Related: Astronomers imagine the stellar network of a cosmic Tarantula Nebula
About 161,000 light-years from our solar system, the Tarantula Nebula is the largest and brightest stellar nursery among the closest galaxies to the Milky Way, also called the Local Group.
The core of the Tarantula Nebula has been carved into a huge cavity by the intense radiation emitted by hot young stars, which can be identified by their brilliant blue glow. The region is also home to some of the hottest and most massive stars astronomers have discovered to date.
Throughout much of this region, the researchers found that the magnetic fields are strong enough to resist turbulence, meaning they help the gas in the Tarantula Nebula not undergo gravitational collapse. This keeps the structure of the cloud intact, but by preventing the collapse of dense gas regions, it hinders the birth of stars.
In areas where the field is weaker, however, the gas is capable of leaking out and inflating shells of material. As the mass of these shells increases collecting material, star formation can then progress within them.
The interaction of gravity and magnetic fields in the region was observed using the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy’s (SOFIA) high-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera Plus (HAWC+) instrument.
The Tarantula Nebula was there subject of intense study by astronomers due to the fact that it has a chemical composition that closely resembles the more distant galaxies seen at a time of intense star formation called the “cosmic noon”.
The Tarantula Nebula is also generating stars at a rate that far exceeds star formation in the Milky Way. This starburst activity also mimics star creation rates at cosmic noon, which occurred between 10 billion and 11 billion years ago, about 3 to 4 billion years after the Big Bang.
Astronomers will continue to observe this fascinating region of the Large Magellanic Cloud using the Hubble Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope, using it as a proxy for the first more distant galaxies attempting to unlock the secrets of the infant universe.
The research is described in an article published in the astrophysics journal.
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