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Hubble Space Telescope Focuses on Young Stars

by News7

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have collected information on almost 500 stars as part of the Ultraviolet Legacy Library of Young Stars as Essential Standards (ULLYSES) survey.

This Hubble image of a star-forming region containing massive, young, blue stars in the Tarantula Nebula. Image credit: NASA / ESA / STScI / Francesco Paresce, INAF-IASF Bologna / Robert O’Connell, UVA / SOC-WFC3 / ESO.

“I believe the ULLYSES project will be transformative, impacting overall astrophysics — from exoplanets, to the effects of massive stars on galaxy evolution, to understanding the earliest stages of the evolving Universe,” said ULLYSES implementation team lead Dr. Julia Roman-Duval, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

“Aside from the specific goals of the survey, the stellar data can also be used in fields of astrophysics in ways we can’t yet imagine.”

Dr. Roman-Duval and her colleagues studied 220 stars, then combined those observations with information from the Hubble archive on 275 additional stars.

The survey also included data from some of the world’s largest, most powerful ground-based telescopes and X-ray space telescopes.

The ULLYSES dataset is made up of stellar spectra, which carry information about each star’s temperature, chemical composition, and rotation.

One type of stars studied under ULLYSES is super-hot, massive, blue stars.

They are a million times brighter than the Sun and glow fiercely in ultraviolet light that can easily be detected by Hubble. Their spectra include key diagnostics of the speed of their powerful winds.

The winds drive galaxy evolution and seed galaxies with the elements needed for life. Those elements are cooked up inside the stars’ nuclear fusion ovens and then injected into space as a star dies.

ULLYSES targeted blue stars in nearby galaxies that are deficient in elements heavier than helium and hydrogen.

“ULLYSES observations are a stepping stone to understanding those first stars and their winds in the Universe, and how they impact the evolution of their young host galaxy,” Dr. Roman-Duval said.

The other star category in the ULLYSES survey is young stars less massive than our Sun.

Though cooler and redder than our Sun, in their formative years they unleash a torrent of high-energy radiation, including blasts of ultraviolet light and X-rays.

Because they are still growing, they are gathering material from their surrounding planet-forming disks of dust and gas.

The Hubble spectra include key diagnostics of the process by which they acquire their mass, including how much energy this process releases into the surrounding planet-forming disk and nearby environment.

The blistering ultraviolet light from young stars affects the evolution of these disks as they form planets, as well as the chances of habitability for newborn planets.

The target stars are located in nearby star-forming regions in our Milky Way Galaxy.

The ULLYSES concept was designed by a committee of experts with the goal of using Hubble to provide a legacy set of stellar observations.

“ULLYSES was originally conceived as an observing program utilizing Hubble’s sensitive spectrographs,” Dr. Roman-Duval said.

“However, the survey was tremendously enhanced by community-led coordinated and ancillary observations with other ground- and space-based observatories.”

“Such broad coverage allows astronomers to investigate the lives of stars in unprecedented detail and paint a more comprehensive picture of the properties of these stars and how they impact their environment.”

Source : Breaking Science News

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