The University of Texas at Austin’s assistant professor Stella Offner carried out a new study, recently published in the Nature Astronomy journal. The researchers found out that magnetic waves are crucial in star-forming processes that take place within enormous clouds of gas and dust that birth stars. Additionally, the research shed more light on how these processes influence the characteristics of the stars which, at their turn, can affect the formation of planets and, eventually, life.
Using a supercomputer, Stella Offner managed to create models of the processes that occur in star-forming clouds, trying to link specific processes to specific outcomes.
“These clouds are violent places. It’s an extreme environment with all kinds of different physics happening at once,” such as gravity and turbulence as well as solar radiation and winds coming from the forming stars, a phenomenon known as “stellar feedback.” However, the basic question is “why are the motions in these clouds so violent?” according to Offner.
Magnetic waves in enormous clouds that birth stars have a crucial influence in star-forming processes
According to the computer models created by Stella Offner, revealed that solar winds from the forming stars are interacting with the clouds’ magnetic waves generating huge amounts of energy that’s affecting the gas from which stars are developing at greater distances than previously believed.
“Think of the magnetic fields like rubber bands that stretch across the cloud. The winds push the field; it’s like rubber bands being plucked. The waves outrun the wind and cause distant motions,” said Offner
However, Stella Offner admits that she needs to study this phenomenon on a larger scale further. While the current research centered on only one cloud that birth stars, future studies will examine the influence of magnetic waves on star-forming processes in more clouds, Offner stated.
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