Secrets of the superstars

Secrets of the superstars

High-mass stars are among the most exotic and exciting objects in our Universe. They lead short but fascinating lives. In dense interstellar clouds, forming stars compete for the available gas through their gravitational attractions and a few of them end up with vastly more mass than the typical star – in the most extreme cases, over 100 times more than the mass of the Sun. Despite their rarity such supermassive stars greatly affect their environment by the radiation and winds they emit, before exploding as spectacular supernovae after only a few million years. During their short lifetimes they can shape the interstellar medium, enrich the surrounding gas with the chemical elements needed to form planets, and both trigger and stop further star formation. We owe our existence to the high-mass stars that lived and died before the Sun was born.

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About Ian Bonnell

Ian Bonnell did his PhD at the University of Montreal on the formation of binary and multiple stars, and spent seven years as a researcher at the University of Cambridge. He is currently Professor of Astrophysics at the University of St Andrews where his research interest centres on the formation of stars and the dynamics of interstellar matter in galaxies. He uses computer simulations to explore the physical processes of star formation and to study how star formation affects the large-scale evolution of our Galaxy.

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