[imagesource: Northwestern University / UT Austin]
We’re not referring to Lady Gaga this time when we talk about a star being born.
Instead, we mean the real deal.
From the tiny spot we take up in this massive universe, there’s a lot that we don’t see, or understand, when we look up at the pretty sparkly things in the sky.
We are only just beginning to understand the multitudinous elements that lead to a star being born, for example.
Per CNET, telescopes have provided mere snapshots of the far-off stellar nurseries made of massive gas clouds.
What we have now, though, is advanced computing which can simulate a massive cloud of dust and gas — the place where stars are born.
The Star Formation in Gaseous Environments project, or ‘Starforge’, uses the most realistic and highest resolution simulation, to date, of the birth of stars to figure things out.
News of the project was released on Tuesday, led by Michael Grudić, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University, and accepted for publication in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Watch the simulation of how the stars, which are the bright white dots, are created from the ginormous gaseous cloud, floating in a virtual galaxy that evolves and collapses:
Mashable shares more about the goal of the simulation:
“If we can understand star formation, then we can understand galaxy formation. And by understanding galaxy formation, we can understand more about what the universe is made of,” Grudić said in a statement.
“Understanding where we come from and how we’re situated in the universe ultimately hinges on understanding the origins of stars.”
A star, like our sun, takes about 50 million years to grow up – a long time, for sure – and astrophysicists have understood the process reasonably well.
It’s the real-time view of star formation that has been the challenge:
“People have been simulating star formation for a couple decades now, but Starforge is a quantum leap in technology,” Grudić says.
He goes on to say that Starforge is the first simulations that incorporate the “laundry list” of wild physics occurring in these clouds:
Taking into account how gravity, chemistry, atomic physics, turbulence, fluid dynamics, magnetic fields and more all interact and the feedback mechanisms that occur during star formation.
Starforge aims to show the big picture instead of just a small part, and how all of these factors influence star birth, which will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the stellar phenomena.
That’s cool and all, but I really like stars for how small they make me feel – often a necessary reminder that the universe does not revolve around us.
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