How do stars evolve in molecular clouds?

Jun 27, 2022 08:18 · 205 words · 1 minute read astronomy science research

I sometimes have research ideas that I think are cool, but that don’t make sense for me to pursue. I generally just make a note of them and move on. This is the 21st post in a series describing some of the ideas I’ve accumulated.

How do stars evolve in molecular clouds?

What’s the idea?

Some stars are in molecular clouds, and the clouds probably affect their evolution by blocking escaping light, exerting pressure on their surfaces, possibly accreting mass onto their surfaces, coupling to their rotation via magnetic fields, and more. In many ways it’s a similar problem to stellar evolution in AGN disks.

Why is this important?

Some stars are in molecular clouds! It seems interesting to understand how clouds impacts their evolution.

Moreover we might also be able to directly observe such stars, or maybe ones that escape molecular clouds at later times, and that could give a useful analogy to AGN stars.

How can I get started?

I’m not sure! I’d probably start by figuring out what observations we have of stars in molecular clouds or other dense environments, or what tracers we might have of that evolution. That would inform what theoretical work needs to be done to make predictions.

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