A new shocking theory points towards the fact that stars may have been created by cannibalism. While celestial cannibalism looks nothing like what the term suggests on Earth, it still is a rather violent series of events.
Eduard Vorobyov from University of Vienna has come up with a new theory regarding the creation of the stars. It seems the celestial items do not gain their final mass by steadily accumulating it, but by subsequent stellar brightening. The brightening happens because of the fragmentation that is the result of gravitational instabilities found in gaseous disks. This process leads to the movement of dense gaseous clumps to the stars.
Vorobyov’s theory could finally be proved by using advanced observational instruments. The results of the study named “Circumstellar Disks of the Most Vigorously Accreting Young Stars” were published in the Science Advances journal.
In more depth, stars appear inside a cloud made of dust ad interstellar gas that is constantly rotating. This cloud can contract to stellar densities because of its gravity. However, before landing on a star, the cloud first has to stay on a circumstellar disk that is forming around the star. The process of the transfer of material from the disk to the star is currently an important topic in astrophysics.
A prototype example for this galactic cannibalism is the FU Orionis star. This young star that is part of the Orion constellation has recorded a brightness increase by 250 factors during just one year. Its current high luminous state has been ongoing for almost one hundred years.
Eduard Vorobyov from Vienna University’s Astrophysical Department and Shantanu Basu from University of Western Ontario in Canada have come up with an explanation for this process about ten years ago. In their opinion, this brightening happens as a result of the gravitational instabilities of massive gaseous disks that lead to fragmentation. They compared the event to throwing logs in a fireplace, as each time the wood falls on the fire it throws sparks into the air.
The events seem to take place at a distance of several thousand years. While some could have gained mass by themselves, other stars may have been created by cannibalism, by being eaten by a paternal star. Otherwise, our solar system might have had plenty more planets to explore. The theory is very similar to a story from the Greek mythology, when Cronos the Titan ended up eating his own children.
Image Source: Motherboard