Hunting High-Mass Stars With Herschel


Copyright: ESA/PACS & SPIRE consortia, A. Rivera-Ingraham & P.G. Martin, Univ. Toronto, HOBYS Key Programme (F. Motte)

Copyright: ESA/PACS & SPIRE consortia, A. Rivera-Ingraham & P.G. Martin, Univ. Toronto, HOBYS Key Programme (F. Motte)

In this new view of a vast star-forming cloud called W3, ESA’s Herschel space observatory tells the story of how massive stars are born.

Spanning almost 200 light-years, W3 is one of the largest star-formation complexes in the outer Milky Way, hosting the formation of both low- and high-mass stars. The distinction is drawn at eight times the mass of our own Sun: above this limit, stars end their lives as supernovas.

Dense, bright blue knots of hot dust marking massive star formation dominate the upper left of the image in the two youngest regions in the scene: W3 Main and W3 (OH). Intense radiation streaming away from the stellar infants heats up the surrounding dust and gas, making it shine brightly in Herschel’s infrared-sensitive eyes.

By studying the two regions of massive star formation – W3 Main and W3 (OH) – scientists have made progress in solving one of the major conundrums in the birth of massive stars. That is, even during their formation, the radiation blasting away from these stars is so powerful that they should push away the very material they are feeding from. If this is the case, how can massive stars form at all?

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Herschel/Hunting_high-mass_stars_with_Herschel

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