Newborn stars are difficult to photograph. They tend to hide in the nebulous stellar nurseries where they formed, enshrouded by thick layers of dust. Now, Smithsonian astronomer T.K. Sridharan (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and his colleagues have photographed a pair of stellar twins in infrared light, which penetrates the dust. And these babies are whoppers, weighing several times the mass of the Sun.
Moreover, Sridharan’s images reveal a circumstellar disk surrounding the more massive of the two stars. The presence of a disk suggests that massive, multiple-star systems form the same way as the Sun, by gradually accreting material from a gaseous disk.
“This system is the youngest massive binary ever to be directly imaged – only about 100,000 years old,” said Sridharan.