Star Birth Mystery Solved: Why Isn’t The Milky Way Creating More Stars?

By iScienceTimes Staff Reporter on January 15, 2013 10:55 AM EST

milky way
Why isn't the Milky Way creating more stars? (Photo: Creative Commons: madmiked)

A star birth mystery is finally solved, and researchers now understand why a complex gas cloud at the center of our Milky Way galaxy isn't creating many new stars. The gas cloud, known as G0.253+0.016, has been an anomaly. It hasn't been churning out stars as fast as researchers expected it to, but now, that star birth mystery is solved.

The gas cloud at the center of the star birth mystery, G0.253+0.016, is 25 times more dense as the Orion Nebula, which creates stars constantly. Conventional wisdom says that gas clouds this dense should clump together to create large stars, but the fact that it doesn't has led to the star birth mystery.

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"It's a very dense cloud and it doesn't form any massive stars -- which is very weird," Jens Kauffmann, a senior postdoctoral scholar at Caltech said, according to ScienceDaily.

But the star birth mystery is finally solved, and researchers said the reason the Milky Way isn't churning out stars is because while it is a dense cloud, it lacks the dense "nuggets" needed to collapse into stars. In addition, the gas cloud is simply spinning too fast.

"That was very surprising," Thushara Pillai, also of Caltech, said, according to Yahoo! News. "We expected to see a lot more dense gas."

Researchers also saw that the gas cloud is made up of silicon monoxide, which suggests that the gas cloud is actually two, whose impact is generating enormous shockwaves.

"To see such shocks on such large scales is very surprising," Pillai said.

The researchers next step is to study similar clouds, to see if the star birth mystery solution holds true. 

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