Wide-field view from ESO of part of the Taurus star-forming region

Wide-field view of part of the Taurus star formation region
Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin

This wide field image shows extensive dust and small clumps of star formation in part of the Taurus star formation region. A faint star at the centre of this picture is the young binary star system HK Tauri. ALMA observations of this system have provided the clearest picture ever of protoplanetary discs in a double star. The new result demonstrates one possible way to explain why so many exoplanets — unlike the planets in the Solar System — came to have strange, eccentric or inclined orbits. This picture was created from images from the Digitized Sky Survey 2.

Artist’s impression of the discs around the young stars HK Tau

Artist’s impression of the misaligned protoplanetary disks HK Tauri A and B (courtesy ESO). Update: The most massive star in the Milky Way’s largest star-forming region, W49, has been reckoned at between 100 and 180 solar masses:

Astronomers led by Shiwei Wu of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have identified the most massive star in our home galaxy’s largest stellar nursery, the star-forming region W49. The star, named W49nr1, has a mass between 100 and 180 times the mass of the Sun. Only a few dozen of these very massive stars have been identified so far. As seen from Earth, W49 is obscured by dense clouds of dust, and the astronomers had to rely on near-infrared images from ESO’s New Technology Telescope and the Large Binocular Telescope to obtain suitable data. The discovery is hoped to shed light on the formation of massive stars, and on the role they play in the biggest star clusters.

PR_2014_07_1en_gr

Credit: S.-W. Wu, A. Bik, Th. Henning, A. Pasquali, W. Brandner, A. Stolte and MPIA Heidelberg press release. J and H-band data originally published in Alves and Homeier 2003.

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