Mysterious blue blobs in space are actually blue clusters of young stars

January 9th, 2008 - 12:20 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Jan 9, ANI: New observations from the Hubble Telescope has revealed that the mysterious blue blobs in a structure called Arps Loop between the M81 and M82 galaxies, are actually blue clusters of young stars.

Reported by Duilia de Mello of the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. and NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., the blue blobs are brilliant blue clusters of stars born in the swirls and eddies of a galactic pile-up less than 200 million years old, with many stars as young as, and even younger than, 10 million years.

According to researchers, each of the objects weighs tens of thousands of solar masses and has never been seen in detail before in such sparse locations. They are more massive than most open clusters found inside galaxies, but a fraction of the mass of globular star clusters that orbit a galaxy.

But the mystery about these blobs is that they have been found along a wispy bridge of gas strung among three colliding galaxies, M81, M82, and NGC 3077, residing approximately 12 million light-years from Earth.

De Mello states that this is not the place astronomers expect to find star clusters: in the “abyssal plain” of intergalactic space. We could not believe it, the stars were in the middle of nowhere, he said.

Though the gas filaments in Arps Loop were considered too thin to accumulate enough material to actually build this many stars, Hubble has revealed that the blue blobs contain the equivalent of five Orion Nebulae.

As for their formation, the research team has proposed that the star clusters in this diffuse structure might have formed from gas collisions and the subsequent turbulence, which enhanced the density of the gas streams locally.

Galaxy collisions were much more frequent in the early Universe, so blue blobs should have been common. After the stars burned out or exploded, the heavier elements forged in their nuclear furnaces would have been ejected to enrich intergalactic space.

The discovery of these star clusters is quite significant because the heavier elements produced in their fusion furnaces may easily be expelled back into intergalactic space. Now, according to researchers, this may offer clues as to how the early universe was polluted with heavier elements early in its history. (ANI)

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