NOV 25, 2016 8:11 AM PST

Astronomers Observe Formation of Triple Star System for the First Time

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

It’s not every day that astronomers get the chance to see stars forming in space, but it goes without saying that it’s even rarer to see multiple stars forming in the same system in space.
 
Although binary systems are actually quite common, triple and even quadruple star systems are a bit rarer. Nevertheless, the only thing rarer than triple and quadruple star systems themselves is the chance to see one of these oddball systems forming out of cosmic dust.
 
Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), astronomers were able to observe such a rare occurrence. Dubbed L1448 IRS3B, the multi-star system formation is taking place right now in a dust cloud in the constellation Pegasus; that’s about 750 light years away from Earth.
 

The triple star system in the middle of formation.

 Image Credit: Bill Saxton, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NRAO/AUI/NSF

It’s the first time a multi-star formation has ever been observed by astronomers in the works, and the details are published in the journal Nature.
 
"This new work directly supports the conclusion that there are two mechanisms that produce multiple star systems -- fragmentation of circumstellar disks, such as we see here, and fragmentation of the larger cloud of gas and dust from which young stars are formed," said John Tobin, of the University of Oklahoma and Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.
 
At the center of the system is the formation of one star, and then the other two are forming around the center star. Each of the two outer stars are reportedly 61 and 183 times further from the center star than the Earth is from the Sun.
 
The dust forming the stars is reportedly takes a spiral shape, and this means to astronomers that it has some instability. Moreover, the system itself is no probably older than about 150,000 years, which is a blink of an eye in universe time.
 

An artist's impression of the triple star system.

 Image Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

Because this is the first time astronomers have ever observed a multi-star system in the course of formation, astronomers can effectively conclude that multi-star systems can actually form on their own and aren’t the result of drifting stars.
 
"We now expect to find other examples of this process and hope to learn just how much it contributes to the population of multiple stars," Tobin said.
 
Source: NRAO

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 15, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Modern Slavery in Greece Spotted from Space
JUL 15, 2021
Modern Slavery in Greece Spotted from Space
Migrant settlements being exploited for work have been spotted with satellite imagery by researchers led by the Universi ...
SEP 22, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
XENON1T Physicists May Have Directly Detected Dark Energy
SEP 22, 2021
XENON1T Physicists May Have Directly Detected Dark Energy
In what could be a revolutionary discovery, a team of physicists from the XENON Collaboration may have detected dark ene ...
OCT 05, 2021
Space & Astronomy
In a First, Researchers Find a Planet Orbiting Three Stars
OCT 05, 2021
In a First, Researchers Find a Planet Orbiting Three Stars
Scientists were mystified by images obtained from Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope, which s ...
NOV 30, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Perseverance Captures Challenges Faced by Helicopter on Mars
NOV 30, 2021
Perseverance Captures Challenges Faced by Helicopter on Mars
The Perseverance rover has captured footage of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter while it was completing its thirteen flight ...
DEC 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
This Scorching Hot Planet Orbits Its Star in Eight Hours
DEC 08, 2021
This Scorching Hot Planet Orbits Its Star in Eight Hours
Scientists discovered an exoplanet that has some wild characteristics. This exoplanet, called GJ 367b, was identified by ...
JAN 14, 2022
Space & Astronomy
The Expanse: A Lasting Impact on Science Fiction
JAN 14, 2022
The Expanse: A Lasting Impact on Science Fiction
First premiering on SyFy on December 14, 2015, the critically acclaimed outer space drama known as The Expanse quickly g ...
Loading Comments...