For the first time ever, astronomers have spotted a young star "giving birth" to another star, reports Phys.org.
The parent — a baby star dubbed MM 1a — weighs 40 times the mass of our sun and is so enormous that, instead of giving birth to planets, it has produced another, tiny star.
This smaller companion — designated MM 1b — is about 80 times smaller than its parent star, weighing less than half the mass of the sun. This star was born from the massive disk of gas and dust surrounding MM 1a — also known as a protoplanetary disk, or the stuff that planets are made of, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
This peculiar case is described by astronomers as a phenomenon called "fragmented disk" and was detailed in a study published today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
"Stars form within large clouds of gas and dust in interstellar space," said study lead author Dr. John Ilee, a research fellow at the University of Leeds' School of Physics and Astronomy. "When these clouds collapse under gravity, they begin to rotate faster, forming a disk around them. In low mass stars like our sun, it is in these disks that planets can form."
"In this case, the star and disk we have observed is so massive that, rather than witnessing a planet forming in the disk, we are seeing another star being born."