Recently, Chinese astronomers have discovered the law of stellar mass distribution, which is applied in the birth of stars. The new discovery challenges the classical theory of astrophysics and could have a significant impact on cutting-edge research in areas such as the evolution of stars, galaxies and the universe. A research team led by Liu Chao, who works at the National Astronomical Observatory of China (NAOC) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, found that the initial mass function (IMF) of stars varies with time and metallicity (the relative concentration of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium). This discovery is published in the scientific journal Nature.
Many new stars in the Universe have different masses, but are born in groups in the same star formation region. Most of the properties of galaxies depend strongly on the initial mass function, namely on the distribution of stellar mass at each stage of this process. For more than half a century, astronomers believed that the IMF is a universal and constant value at all stages of evolution, which led to the appearance of the classical hypothesis in textbooks on astrophysics.
However, recent observations have shown that the initial mass function can be variable.
Based on data from China’s LAMOST spectroscope and the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, astronomers took more than 90,000 stellar samples in the vicinity of the Sun and found “clear evidence of IMF variability, which depends on both the metallicity and age of the star.” According to Liu Chao, recently the proportion of less massive stars has been growing with an increase in their metallicity. The variable mass in the Milky Way is a powerful benchmark for star formation models and can greatly influence the results of galaxy chemical enrichment simulations, galaxy mass estimates, and planet formation efficiency.
This discovery will also influence many astrophysical studies, such as measuring the mass of dark matter in galaxies at different stages of the development of the universe, understanding the process of star formation, detecting planets outside the solar system, and even studying the phenomena of gravitational waves. The Chinese scientists hope that the launch of the Xuntian orbital module with an optical telescope will allow astronomers to confirm their discovery and provide more data to understand the initial mass function and physical processes occurring in stellar formations.
Source: Trash Box
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