Tech UPTechnologyCreate the most realistic simulation of how stars are...

Create the most realistic simulation of how stars are born

How are stars made? Why does this process take so long? Why are some stars bigger than others? These are questions that we have been asking ourselves for a long time and answering them is not an easy matter, because stars take millions of years to form. We do not have a way to see the stars grow from the beginning of their lives. Hence, astrophysicists rely on computer simulations to try to find out what is really happening in the cosmos.

Now, a team of scientists from Northwestern University in Illinois (USA) has developed the most realistic and highest resolution 3D simulation of star formation to date. The result, thanks to mathematics, is a visually stunning wonder, allowing us to float around a colorful cloud of gas in space (the nurseries of the universe) in 3D as we watch the rise of new stars.

This fantastic virtual machine learning laboratory called STARFORGE (Star formation in gaseous environments), is the first to simulate a complete gas cloud , 100 times more massive than previously possible and full of vibrant colors, where stars are born. It is also the first simulation to take into account stellar feedback, magnetic fields, atomic physics, fluid dynamics, including jets, radiation, wind, and nearby supernova activity simultaneously, to determine and emulate how. these processes interact and affect the formation of stars.

“Scientists have been simulating star formation for a couple of decades, but STARFORGE is a quantum leap in technology. Other models have only been able to simulate a small part of the cloud where stars form, not the entire cloud in high resolution. Without seeing the big picture, we overlooked many factors that could influence the outcome of the star, “explains Michael Grudić, co-author of the study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Thanks to STARFORGE we will be able to explore such interesting questions as why the formation of stars is so slow and inefficient (without going any further, a star like our Sun takes about 50 million years to become an adult) , what determines the mass of a star or why stars tend to form in clusters.



Much remains to be seen

By playing around with the base conditions in the initial cloud and turning different physics on and off, researchers can work backwards to find out what is having an effect on the process of how stars form and how massive they become. For example, they found that without protostellar jets, which influence star formation, stars would be 10 times more massive , according to their estimates.

The resulting simulation shows a mass of gas, tens to millions of times the mass of the Sun, floating in the galaxy. As the gas cloud evolves, it forms structures that collapse and break into pieces, forming individual stars. Once the stars are formed, they shoot jets of gas outward from both poles, piercing the surrounding cloud. The process ends when there is no gas left to form new stars.

“Understanding galaxy formation depends on assumptions about star formation. If we can understand star formation, then we can understand galaxy formation. And by understanding galaxy formation, we can understand more about what the universe is made of. Understanding where we come from and how we are situated in the universe ultimately depends on understanding the origins of the stars, “concludes Grudic.

See the glorious results of the largest and most realistic star formation simulation ever created. Remember that they are not artistic renderings : they are real simulations (a very complicated modeling process that can take up to three months on a current supercomputer). Fortunately, the payoff is worth it.

Referencia: Michael Y Grudić et al. STARFORGE: Toward a comprehensive numerical model of star cluster formation and feedback, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2021). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stab1347

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