Night view of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope [File photo: Xinhua]
How many new suns could emerge in the Milky Way in the future?
Chinese astronomers plan to use the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), by far the largest telescope ever built, to search for birthplaces of new suns so they can better understand how stars and life substances are formed.
Astronomers at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently caught the birth of a dark molecular cloud for the first time by using three telescopes of the United States and Europe.
The discovery was published in the Astrophysical Journal, and introduced by the journal Nature as a research highlight.
Scientists found dark regions in the universe that are rich in atomic and molecular gases and cosmic dust, known as interstellar dark clouds, which are the birthplaces of new stars, new planets, and possibly life.
The discovery made Li Di, chief scientist of FAST, very confident of finding the birthplaces of new suns with FAST in the future.
"The high sensitivity of FAST and its advantage in sky coverage will enable us to study the molecular clouds in the Milky Way, as well as in the Andromeda Galaxy, adjacent to our galaxy," Li said.
"We also plan to cooperate with the Milky Way Image Scroll Project of the Purple Mountain Observatory to catch the dark clouds at birth, and to study how many new suns will be born in our galaxy," said Li.