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April 14, 2011

Star Formation Linked to Sonic Booms

Through studying three nearby interstellar clouds (IC5146, Aquila and Polaris), a team of scientists at ESA's Herschel space observatory discovered tangled gaseous filaments with uniform widths inside the clouds. After studying 90 filaments, the team observed that they all shared the same width of about .3 light years across. Although the filaments may vary in length and density, the observation of uniform widths calls for investigation. The uniform widths within the gaseous filaments suggest that there may be a connection between slow shock waves of interstellar turbulence (equivalent to sonic booms) throughout our galaxy that may initiate star formation within interstellar clouds. Although these filaments have been observed before, no one has been able to obtain a clear enough image to describe the size of each filament. The connection between uniformly sized filaments and star formation used to be unclear but this exciting discovery shows us that we may be able to predict and actually view star formation as it occurs.

The full article can be found at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110413101751.htm

Posted by sarahwiz at April 14, 2011 11:26 AM

Comments

This has the potential to be a really valuable discovery. Further analysis of these filaments should be conducted; if star formation can be predicted, that could lead to some really exciting insight that we haven't had before. It's really interesting that the width of the filaments could indicate sonic booms!

Posted by: hallsar at April 15, 2011 10:39 PM

I think that makes sense that interstellar turbulence could initiate star formation, because sonic booms can can create enough pressure at mach 1 to cause water vapor to condense, making a cloud around the plane. This makes it seem like maybe if the conditions are right, a shockwave of turbulence in the galaxy could compress a gaseous cloud enough to condense the gases and trigger fusion somehow.

Posted by: rborden at April 17, 2011 02:09 PM

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