Supercomputing the Turbulent Birth of Stars

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Florent Renaud

Florent Renaud

Our Video Sunday feature continues with this simulation of Galactic Collisions. Stars are formed when the gas contained in certain regions of a galaxy becomes dense enough to collapse in on itself (usually due to gravity). When two galaxies collide, a “starburst” of star formation is generally observed, for reasons hitherto unknown.

Using very high-resolution numerical simulations, astrophysicists at the CEA and CNRS, led by Florent Renaud, have, for the very first time, achieved a detailed analysis of the effects of turbulence generated when two galaxies collide. These numerical simulations, in which the disordered motions of the gas contained in galaxies are seen at extremely small-scale resolutions, at last explain a phenomenon that astrophysicists have observed but which they have been unable to understand until now: that of “starbursts” of star formation when galaxies collide. A process of compressive turbulence helps to explain such starbursts, and why some galaxies form more stars than others.

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