Scientists from Japan have presented a new hypothesis according to which star formation is associated with collisions of clouds of gas.
The researchers explained that stars are formed as a result of the gravitational compression of clouds of gas in space and therefore can have different masses. Massive stars, together with many other objects, can form a huge star cluster (a group of more than 10 thousand stars). The formation of such a star cluster requires the rapid packing of huge amounts of gas and other materials in a small space, but the mechanism by which this happens was not understood by scientists.
The research team focused on the hypothesis that multiple gas clouds collide, allowing them to quickly form a star cluster. To test this hypothesis, the team, in collaboration with researchers from Osaka Prefecture University and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, observed a huge amount of data from more than a decade of research and mathematical modeling. As a result, they discovered that collisions of clouds of gas soaring in space actually cause the birth of a star cluster.
They have observed many collisions of gas clouds in our and other galaxies, which suggests that these phenomena are universal. They now speculate that the Milky Way collided with other galaxies shortly after its birth, causing frequent collisions of gas clouds in the galaxies. This, in turn, led to the formation of many groups of over a million stars.
The research appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan. It is a collection of 20 articles that are based on careful scrutiny of individual astronomical bodies, as well as a review article summarizing the latest understanding of star formation as a result of colliding gas clouds.