Recreating Clusters of Stars with Computer Simulations

Researchers have unlocked the way clusters of stars came into being. Corey Howard, Ralph Pudritz and William Harris, Physics & Astronmy, have shown that these clusters were all created the same way. Their work, published last June in Nature Astronomy, used highly-sophisticated computer simulations to re-create what happens inside gigantic clouds of concentrated gases known to give rise to clusters of stars that are bound together by gravity.

The state-of-the-art simulations follow a cloud of interstellar gas 500 light years in diameter, projecting 5 million years’ worth of evolution wrought by turbulence, gravity and feedback from intense radiation pressure produced by massive stars within forming clusters.

The research shows how those forces create dense filaments that funnel gas into what ultimately become super-bright clusters of stars that can merge with other clusters to form vast globular clusters.

Pudritz and Harris, both professors of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster, were Howard’s Ph.D. thesis supervisors and guided his research. Howard recently completed post-doctoral research at McMaster.

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