Skywatch

  • July 9, 2009

    Episode 227: A Strange Birthplace

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    The center of our Milky Way galaxy is a chaotic, harsh place, home to shock waves, intense radiation, and a supermassive black hole. You might think all these elements would prohibit new stars from forming or rip apart any object shortly after it was formed. But a few years ago, infrared observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope indicated that clusters of stars could indeed form in this region. Now new observations have detected brand new stars near the galaxy center. The "baby" stars can be distinguished from similar-looking older stars because they are still imbedded in the molecular cloud in which they formed. Might these objects form planetary systems, since they have lots of dusty material around them?