MIAMI, May 26 (UPI) — Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope say they have discovered a number of previously unknown regions where massive stars are forming.
The astronomers said the star-forming areas, called “H II regions,” are sites where hydrogen atoms are stripped of their electrons by intense radiation from massive, young stars. To find the regions, which are hidden from visible-light detection by the Milky Way’s gas and dust, the researchers said they used infrared and radio telescopes.
“We found our targets by using the results of infrared surveys done with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and of surveys done with the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array radio telescope,” said astronomer Loren Anderson of the Astrophysical Laboratory of Marseille in France.
The researchers said they determined 25 of the regions are farther from the galaxy’s center than the sun.
“We can clearly relate the locations of these star-forming sites to the overall structure of the galaxy,” Thomas Bania, a Boston University astronomer, said, “Further studies will allow us to better understand the process of star formation and to compare the chemical composition of such sites at widely different distances from the galaxy’s center.”
Bania, Anderson, Dana Balser of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Robert Rood of the University of Virginia presented their findings Wednesday in Miami during a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
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