Even though there are millions of stars in the universe, it is quite curious that there aren’t a lot of new stars being born. One possible reason could be that there aren’t many opportunities for stars to be born, according to astronomers from the National Astronomical Observatory in Japan.
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Stars are born in gas clouds. The high-density gas pockets form in the extended, low-density gas clouds, and stars form in the very dense gas cores which evolve within the high-density gas. However, observations of distant galaxies detected 1000 times fewer stars than the production value expected from the total amount of low-density gas. To interpret the discrepancy, observations which detect both of the high-density and low-density gas with high-spatial resolution and wide area coverage were needed.
Kazufumi Torii, a project assistant professor at NAOJ, and his team analyzed the big data obtained in the FUGIN project, and measured the accurate masses of the low-density and high-density gas for a large span of 20,000 light-years along the Milky Way. They revealed for the first time that the high-density gas accounts for only 3% of the total gas.
(Image credit: NAOJ)