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Yellowballs offer insights into star formation

15 Apr 2021, 12:00 UTC
Yellowballs offer insights into star formation
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This false-color infrared image shows a swath of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, used in an analysis of what astronomers call yellowballs (circled in this image). They appear to be places where young stars are heating the leftover gas and dust from which they were born. Image via Charles Kerton, Iowa State University/ NASA/ Spitzer Space Telescope/ PSI.
Stars are born from clouds of gas and dust in space. What astronomers call yellowballs are thought to be clusters of still-forming young stars, heating the gas and dust of their surroundings. Citizen scientists in the Zooniverse-based Milky Way Project first noticed yellowballs in 2011 and 2012. These regions don’t appear yellow to the eye; they’re observable so far only in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Astronomers said on April 12, 2021 that yellowballs are helping them understand the diverse cosmic environments that form stars and star clusters, very early in their development, when the stars are only about 100,000 years into their lifespans of billions of years. Grace Wolf-Chase at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, led the study. She explained:
This is the point at which their presence is first revealed, but they remain embedded in ...

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