Unveiling Multi-Star System Birth through Trinary Protostar Observations

Credit image: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), J.-E. Lee et al
Credit image: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), J.-E. Lee et al

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Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 04 August 2023, at 09:39 am PDT

Scientists have made remarkable strides in understanding the formation of multi-star systems through their investigation of a trinary protostar system located 460 light-years away in the constellation Taurus.

Stars similar in mass to our sun often come into being as part of multi-star systems, which plays a crucial role in our broader comprehension of star birth. However, the complexity of these systems and the scarcity of high-resolution data have left astronomers puzzled about the underlying formation process.

Recent observations of protostars have hinted at the existence of gas flow structures, called "streamers," directed towards the protostars. Nevertheless, the origin and formation mechanism of these streamers has remained elusive.

To unlock this mystery, an international team of researchers, led by Professor Jeong-Eun Lee from Seoul National University, conducted a detailed study of the trinary protostar system named IRAS 04239+2436 using the powerful Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). During their observations, they identified three spiral arms composed of sulfur monoxide (SO) molecules surrounding the three protostars forming within the system.

Additionally, Professor Tomoaki Matsumoto from Hosei University utilized the ATERUI and ATERUI II supercomputers at the Center for Computational Astrophysics, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), to perform simulations. These simulations confirmed that the three spiral arms are indeed streamers that deliver material directly to the cores of the three protostars.

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