Latest in Science

Image credit:

NASA discovers star clusters like Orion may have formed from the outside in

Billy Steele , @wmsteele

Astronomers have long thought that star clusters form when clouds of gas and dust condense, constructing themselves from the center out. But as recent findings suggest, this might not be the case. Researchers combing through data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and using infrared telescopes have offered a different take. After studying two clusters -- NGC 2024 at the center of the Flame Nebula and the Orion Nebula Cluster -- evidence showed that the stars on the outside for the formations where actually the oldest. "Our findings are counterintuitive," said study head Konstantin Getman. "It means we need to think harder and come up with more ideas of how stars like our sun are formed." Other possible explanations? Well, stars could continue to form in the center due to density, or older stars could've been pushed to the outside thanks to interactions with others. For now, the team looks to expand its search for a similar age range in other clusters.