How can you make a Star Cluster?

How can you make a Star Cluster?

All the Star Clusters were created the same way with gravity, turbulence, and intense radiation pressure being the basic contributors.

Star Clusters is a name given to the groups of stars. These clusters are spread widely in our universe and astronomers have found them in two different types. First one of them is Globular Clusters where thousands of very old stars are tightly bound by gravity. Contrary to that, we have Open Clusters which consist of very young stars and the count of these stars remains in the range of hundreds. As the stars of this cluster continue to move in their specific directions even when there is no gravitational restriction on them, this type of clusters is also known as Moving Group.

Most of the stars found inside a Globular Cluster are either red or yellow in color and weighs slightly less than two solar masses. Having said that, you may find some blue stars in these clusters. Scientists believe that they are formed deep inside such clusters as a result of ‘Stellar Mergers’. The name associated with them is Blue Stragglers. The stars of these clusters are ancient as they are only a few hundred million years younger than the universe itself. On the other hand, most of the stars of an Open Cluster are quite young as they are only a few tens of millions of years old. However, some of them, like Messier 67, is much older than that and have an age of a few billions of years.

Science took a massive step in understanding the stars of our galaxy recently as researchers at McMaster University figured out a way to create these clusters. They found that all we need is a 500 light-years wide cloud of gas, 5 million years of evolution on it, and a month of processing on a supercomputer and you will get a Star Cluster. They concluded that all the clusters of stars that are present in our universe were created in a similar fashion.

Corey Howard chose William Harris and Ralph Pudritz, Professors of Astronomy and Physics at the McMaster University, as supervisors for his Ph.D. thesis. The result of his work is a clear indication that he made perfect choices as both the professors helped him to discover this amazing phenomenon. As we know that clouds of gases are the reason behind all the star clusters, they used highly-sophisticated computer simulations and mimicked what happens inside these clouds of concentrated gases. They found that forces of gravity and turbulence give birth to humungous stars which emit intense radiations as a feedback. All these forces play their role in creating dense filaments that funnel gas to produce blazing clusters of stars that merge with each other to form Globular Clusters. Pudritz explained that by saying,

Most stars in galaxies form as members of star clusters within dense molecular clouds, so one of the most basic questions in astronomy is how do clusters that range from hundreds to millions of stars form under a wide variety of conditions. Our simulations were carefully designed to determine whether or not this a universal process.”

Data variables like space turbulence, gaseous pressure, and force of radiations were fed to Canada’s largest supercomputer center, SciNet, and the results started to appear a month later in the form of star clusters that were identical to those known to exist. It is an unprecedented advancement as the knowledge of researchers about the formation of star clusters will get a major boost through it. Howard described the significance of their in the following words:

Our work shows that, given a large enough collection of gas, a massive star cluster is a natural outcome. Since massive star clusters trace the conditions of the galaxies in which they form, we may also be able to use this knowledge to reverse-engineer the conditions in the distant universe.”

A theory that was quite popular among Astrophysicists, prior to this research, was that different mechanisms were involved with the generation of these clusters. They believed that the process adopted was dependent on the size and age of the star cluster. Things will change dramatically as these simulations have proven that all of them came into being in a similar fashion. Harris talked about its significance as he said,

This is the first convincing route to modeling the formation of star clusters. It applies across all mass scales — little clusters and big ones — and it should work at any particular time in the universe’s history, in any particular galaxy.”

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