New Study finds star-forming cloud's magnetic field curiously twisted

Illinois (Chicago) [US]: 

A new study conducted at North-western University in the US has found out that the star-forming cloud’s magnetic field is curiously twisted. Researchers now believe that a newborn star has moved into another young star’s stellar envelope to form a binary star system.

The interloper shifted the cloud’s dynamics, twisting its magnetic field. The new findings have provided an insight into the binary star formation and how magnetic fields influence the earliest stages of developing stars. As the researchers looked closer into the cloud, they noticed that its magnetic field was interestingly twisted. And as they examined a newborn star within the cloud, they saw a hidden star, tucked behind it.

North-western University’s Erin Cox, who led the study, said, “It’s the star’s sibling, basically. We think these stars formed far apart, and one moved closer to the other to form a binary. When the star travelled closer to its sibling, it shifted the dynamics of the cloud to twist its magnetic field.”

The new findings provide insight into binary star formation and how magnetic fields influence the earliest stages of developing stars.

Although more observations are needed, Cox believes that a previously hidden sibling star may be responsible for the twisted field.

Cox added, “These stars are still young and still forming. The stellar envelope is what supplies the material to form the stars. It’s similar to rolling a snowball in the snow to make it bigger and bigger. The young stars are ‘rolling’ in material to build up mass.”

Currently, astrophysicists agree that binaries can be formed when star-forming clouds are large enough to produce two stars or when the disc rotating around a young star partially collapses to make a second star. But Cox suspects that for the twin stars, something unusual is at play.

Cox also added that “there is newer work that suggests it’s possible to have two stars form far away from each other, and then one star moves in closer to form a binary, we think that’s what is happening here. We don’t know why one star would move toward another one, but we think the moving star shifted the dynamics of the system to twist the magnetic field.” Cox also believes that this new work could provide new insights into how binary stars form.

Most people are familiar with the iconic scene from “Star Wars,” in which Luke Skywalker wistfully gazes up at the binary stars that his home planet Tatooine orbits. Now, scientists know this scenario is not merely science fiction; planets orbiting binary stars potentially could be habitable worlds.

According to reports, Cox will be presenting this research at the 240th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Pasadena, California. 



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