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Star formation may be much faster than previously thought, study suggests

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Astronomers have long thought that it takes millions of years for a star like our Sun to completely form. But recent observations from FAST, the world’s largest radio telescope, are casting doubt on this long-held belief. A new study has shown that stars may be forming much faster than previously thought. Scientists studied the magnetic field inside a molecular cloud located 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Taurus. He chose the cloud named Linds 1544 because it was on the verge of a star formation. Astronomers had previously measured the magnetic field inside the densest part of the cloud.

They also examined thin regions at the edges of the cloud using the Arecibo Observatory, which was established in Puerto Rico but unexpectedly collapsed in 2020. What they could not investigate was the intermediate region between the core and the outer layer. FAST measurements are focused on the region between the thin and the dense regions. According to the researchers, these observations showed that the magnetic field at the new location was 13 times lower than the theoretical model suggested.

According to a report in SPACE.com, this meant that the magnetic field was insufficient to hold the falling matter back, and nuclear fusion would occur fairly quickly. Living stars, such as the Sun, are powered by nuclear fusion.

FAST’s chief scientist Di Lee, who led the study, told Science.org that if the standard theory worked, the magnetic field would have to be strong enough to resist the 100-fold increase in cloud density. But that did not happen.

Scientists believe the discovery could revolutionize the theory of star formation if measurements of other star-forming clouds produce similar results. The FAST telescope installed in China is much larger than Arecibo. FAST has a diameter of 500 meters, compared to Arecibo’s 305 meters. Arecibo held the record for being the world’s largest radio telescope for more than five decades, until 2016. After the collapse of the Arecibo telescope, China opened the fast to international scientists.


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