Irish-based researchers one step closer to solving great stellar mystery

9 Aug 2019

The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) ESO/G Lombardi (

Researchers from DIAS have led a study that has, for the first time, measured the mass and energy of massive jets crucial to star formation.

Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS) researchers have celebrated a discovery that brings us closer than ever to solving one of the biggest cosmic mysteries. The researchers led an international team of astrophysicists from seven different institutions in six countries that has, for the first time, measured the total mass and energy from a jet driven by a massive protostar.

Protostellar jets play a key role in star formation and these new measurements and the values obtained imply that a common mechanism is in place in the formation of jets in low-mass and high-mass protostars.

PhD student Rubén Federiani is a member of the star formation group at DIAS and University College Dublin, who said that this discovery is “very significant” and brings the scientific community “one step closer to filling in the gap between low-mass and high-mass star formation”.

“We are on the cutting edge of science in this area, and having access to the best telescopes in the world via Ireland’s membership with the European Southern Observatory and collaborating internationally has helped greatly in getting us there,” he said.

Alessio Caratti o Garatti, a co-author of the study published to Nature Communications, added: “This research is another important piece of the puzzle.

“After many years of debate, we are finally understanding how massive stars form, namely accreting matter from discs, while at the same time ejecting powerful and highly collimated jets.”

The news comes after another major astronomical discovery that included a treasure trove of previously unknown massive ancient galaxies. This was the first time that such a population of galaxies was discovered to date from the earliest period of the universe in its first 2bn years.

Researcher Tao Wang from the University of Tokyo said: “This finding contravenes current models for that period of cosmic evolution and will help to add some details, which have been missing until now.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic