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A mega-star is born -- and here's how

world Updated: Jul 14, 2010 17:10 IST

AFP
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Using powerful telescopes peering into deep space, astronomers have confirmed a key theory about the formative of massive stars, the journal Nature reported on Wednesday.

Images obtained by NASA's orbital Spitzer Space Telescope and from a ground-based European telescope showed a dusty disc closely encircling a newly-born but huge star.

It is the first direct evidence that very large stars, those with masses at least 10 times that of the Sun, are born in the same way as smaller brethren, from a disk-shaped cloud of dust and gas.

A competing theory was that massive stars were formed from smaller stars that merged.

"This is the first time we could image the inner regions of the disc around a massive young star," said Stefan Kraus of the European Southern Observatory (ESO)."Our observations show that formation works the same for all stars, regardless of mass."

The astronomers looked at a large star known as IRAS 13481-6124, about 20 times the mass of the Sun, located about 10,000 light years in the constellation of Centaurus.