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Accretion Burst Event

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Topics Covered: Awareness in Space.

Accretion Burst Event

What to study?

For Prelims: Meaning, features, about maser monitoring organisation.

For Mains: Significance of the findings.

What is it?

Astronomers have recently found that the funnelling of matter into a forming star happens at different rates over time, as per the rotating disc of gas and dust theory.

Sometimes the forming star swallows up a huge amount of matter, resulting in a burst of activities in the massive star.

This is called an accretion burst event.

It is incredibly rare: only three such events have been observed, out of all the billions of massive stars in the Milky Way.

Need for these understandings:

Astronomers don’t yet fully understand how massive stars in our galaxy are formed. So far, observations have only yielded some pieces of the puzzle.

This is because nearly all the known massive stars in our galaxy are located very far away from our solar system. They also form in close proximity to other massive stars, making it difficult to study the environment where they take shape.

So, rotating disc theory helps in understanding these events.

With this, the astronomers will be able to develop and test theories to explain how high-mass stars gain their mass.

Maser Monitoring Organisation (M2O):

After the first detection of an accretion burst, in 2016, astronomers from around the world agreed in 2017 to coordinate their efforts to observe more.

This led to the formation of the Maser Monitoring Organisation (M2O).

The primary goal of M2O is to make the atronomy community aware of the importance of Maser monitoring. It is also to increase the number of sources monitored, the number of transitions monitored at, and increase cadence of observation.

What is a Maser?

A maser is the microwave (radio frequency) equivalent of laser. The word stands for “microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”.

  • Masers are observed using radio telescopes and most of them are observed at centimetre wavelength: they are very compact.
  • A maser flare can be a sign of an extraordinary event such as the formation of a star. 

Sources: the Hindu.