Skip navigation
A mystery solved about how massive stars form


Narrator:       
This is Science Today. A team of astrophysicists at the University of California have solved a long-standing mystery about how massive stars form. Study leader Mark Krumholz of the University of California, Santa Cruz says the question was how do massive stars, which are up to 120 times the mass of the Sun, form without blowing away the clouds of gas and dust that feed its growth?

Krumholz:       How is it possible to make a massive star despite the radiation pressure it exerts on the gas around it?

Narrator:        The researchers developed a three-dimensional computer model that ran on one of the nation's supercomputers to simulate 57,000 years of time and discovered imperfections formed between the gas and radiate on that resulted in divots, or channels, that allowed radiation to continue to blow out while gas continued to fall inward.

Krumholz:       So, in the end, we found that radiation does not stop these stars from growing - that radiation doesn't seem to set any limit on how big a star can grow. That was the basic outcome of the simulation.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.