Washington, Dec 22 (ANI): A new research by University of Michigan astronomers has found that the most massive stars in the universe could form essentially anywhere, including in near isolation; they don't need a large stellar cluster nursery.
The researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope to zoom in on eight of these giants, which range from 20 to 150 times as massive as the Sun. The stars they looked at are in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that's one of the Milky Way's nearest neighbors.
Their results show that five of the stars had no neighbors large enough for Hubble to discern. The remaining three appeared to be in tiny clusters of ten or fewer stars.
One theory is that the mass of a star depends on the size of the cluster in which it is born, and only a large star cluster could provide a dense enough source of gas and dust to bring about one of these massive stars.
The opposing theory, and the one that this research supports, is that these monstrous stars can and do form more randomly across the universe-including in isolation and in very small clusters.
The researchers acknowledge the possibility that all of the stars they studied might not still be located in the neighborhood they were born in.
Two of the stars they examined are known to be runaways that have been kicked out of their birth clusters.
But in several cases, the astronomers found wisps of leftover gas nearby, strengthening the possibility that the stars are still in the isolated places where they formed.
The finding was published in the Dec. 20 edition of the Astrophysical Journal. (ANI)