The Anvil of Creation
This computer simulation shows the evolution of a star formation region over several million years. It is the most realistic, highest-resolution 3D simulation of star formation to date. It is the first time an entire gas cloud — 100 times more massive than previously possible and full of vibrant colours — has been simulated and also the first simulation which simultaneously models star formation, evolution and dynamics while accounting for stellar feedback, including jets, radiation, wind and nearby supernovae activity.
The colours display the different surface densities of the gas.
Due to turbulence and gravity the cloud quickly develops a filamentary structure. In these dense filaments the gravitational force overpowers pressure forces, causing the gas to collapse and form stars. Gas continues to fall onto newly formed stars, but interactions with the local magnetic field cause a portion of the infalling gas to be launched away from the star. These high velocity materials form protostellar jets. Jets stir and disrupt the flow of gas in the cloud, allowing more stars to form.
Massive stars launch powerful stellar winds, which both heat and push away the nearby gas. Once a number of massive stars have formed, their combined effect becomes powerful enough to disrupt star formation in the entire cloud and expel the remaining gas. With most of the gas flung out, the gravitational force weakens in the remaining star cluster, leading to its expansion and eventual dissolution. Massive stars live only a relatively short time, a few million years, after which they explode as supernovae. Even one of these extremely powerful explosions could disrupt the cloud and expel all gas. However, by the time they occur the cloud has already been destroyed by radiation and stellar winds from massive stars.
The Simulation was created by the STARFORGE cooperation and adapted to fulldome format in collaboration with the Planetarium Mannheim. This work was also supported by NSF Career grant 1748571, NSF AAG 2107942, and a Cottrell Fellowships Award 27982 from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. The simulations were run on TACC supercomputers, using allocations AST-190018 and AST21002.Credit: