Scientists announced this week that they have witnessed the birth of one of the youngest stars in the universe, L1527 IRS. (Photo : Reuters)
One of the great phenomenons of the universe, the birth of a star, has been caught in action by scientists-right when it is in the process of creating its own solar system.
Researchers reported their finding in the Dec. 5 edition of the journal Nature, estimating that the star, called L1527 IRS, could be only a mere 300,000 years old-young for a celestial body-and is projected to be roughly 456 light years away from Earth.
According to SPACE.com, the star is only one-fifth the mass of the sun, and has been projected by researchers to continue its growth, and is considered to be among the youngest stars in the known universe to have ever been discovered, according to chief researcher John Tobin, who has observed this star for years. The star was observed using the Gemini telescopes in Chile.
However, as the report states, it could be younger.
"We conclude that most of the luminosity is generated through the accretion process, with an accretion rate of about 6.6 × 10-7 solar masses per year," the report states. "If it has been accreting at that rate through much of its life, its age is approximately 300,000 years, although theory suggests larger accretion rates earlier, so it may be younger."
Accretion is the process of an object growing or increasing in size by the gradual addition, fusion, or inclusion of extra layers or matter.
The fledgling star was able to be caught by researchers due to the light emitted via the movement of gas and dust around it, which generated radiation that hit the elements in the gas and dust.
Tobin said the new star could help scientists better understand the mysterious process of stellar evolution.
According to scientists, nine out of 10 young stars less than one million years old appear to be surrounded by disks of matter. Save for the few in multiple-star systems who see their disks blown away, it appears disk formation is a universal process in a young star's life.
"We want to get a more detailed view of the structure of the rotating disk," Tobin told Space.com. "We're also trying to look at more young protostars to find more disks like this. You can get a big picture view of everything that's going on."