Madrid, 10 (Europe Press)
It is believed to be caused by the enormous magnetic forces surrounding the star.
The discovery, made using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and presented at a news conference at the 241st meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), could help researchers understand the nature and evolution of massive stars and how hydrogen masks form in space.
MWC 349A is located about 3,900 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cygnus, and its unique features make it a hotspot for scientific research in the optical, infrared and radio wavelengths.
This massive star, about 30 times the mass of the Sun, is one of the brightest radio sources in the sky and one of the few objects known to use a hydrogen maser. These measuring devices amplify radio wave emissions, making it easier to study processes that would normally be too small to see. This unique feature allowed the scientists to map out the disk of MWC 349A in full detail for the first time.
“The laser is like a natural laser,” Serena Prasad, research assistant at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and lead author of the paper, explains in a statement. It emits a bright kind of light. We can see that light and trace it back to its source, which brings us one step closer to discovering what’s really going on.”
By harnessing the resolving power of ALMA Band 6, developed by the US National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the team was able to use telemetry instruments to discover structures never before seen in the star’s immediate vicinity.
Qizhou Zhang, CfA’s chief astrophysicist and principal investigator on the project, explains that they used hydrogen-powered hydrocarbons to examine the physical and dynamical structures of the gas surrounding MWC 349A and revealed a flat gas disk with a diameter of 50 au, about the size of the solar system,” which confirms the disk’s near-horizontal structure. We also found a fast-moving jet component hidden within the winds flowing away from the star,” he adds.
The observed jet shoots material away from the star at a breakneck speed of 500 kilometers per second. According to the researchers, a jet moving at this speed is likely to be triggered by magnetic force. In the case of MWC 349A, that force could be hydrodynamic winds, a type of wind whose motion is dictated by the interaction between the star’s magnetic field and gases in the surrounding disk.
“Based on our previous knowledge of MWC 349A, the star was surrounded by a rotating disk and photovapor wind. Strong evidence of an additional parallel jet has not yet been observed in this system,” says Prasad. We know for sure where it came from or how it is produced, it is possible that the jetting is produced by the magnetodynamic wind, in which case the magnetic field is responsible for expelling the rotating material out of the system. “
He notes, “This could help us better understand the dynamics of the disc winds in MWC 349A, and the interaction between stellar discs, winds, and jets in other stellar systems.”