Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
New observations of the region surrounding Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, has confirmed earlier research by finding what appears to be eleven newly formed baby stars.
Prior observations of the region surrounding Sgr A* by Zadeh and his team had revealed multiple massive infant stars but the finding was not conclusive. These objects, known as proplyds, are common features in more placid star-forming regions, like the Orion Nebula. The new measurements provide more conclusive evidence for young star formation activity. Though the galactic center is a challenging environment for star formation, it is possible for particularly dense cores of hydrogen gas to cross the necessary threshold and forge new stars.
The new ALMA observations, however, revealed something even more remarkable, signs that 11 low-mass protostars are forming within one parsec – a scant three light-years – of the galaxy’s central black hole. Zadeh and his team used ALMA to confirm that the masses and momentum transfer rates – the ability of the protostar jets to plow through surrounding interstellar material – are consistent with young protostars found throughout the disk of our galaxy. “This discovery provides evidence that star formation is taking place within clouds surprisingly close to Sagittarius A*,” said Al Wootten with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia, and co-author on the paper.
They have several theories on how new stars could coalesce in such a violent and turbulent region, but none appears that convincing. Essentially, this is a mystery that does not yet have an answer. It does tell us however that star formation can occur almost anywhere.