Violent end as young stars dramatically collide

Huge explosions in space are mostly associated with supernovas, which can take place in the dying moments of giant, ancient stars.

This new image though shows an explosion taking place at the other end of the stellar lifecycle.

Stars are born when a massive cloud of gas starts to collapse under its own gravity. At a distance of 1,500 light years from Earth, a number of very young stars began to form in a region called the Orion Molecular Cloud 1, (OMC-1).

Gravity pulled these proto-stars closer at increasing speed until about 500 years ago, two of them either grazed or collided head-on, triggering a powerful explosion that hurled gas and dust debris out into space at more than 150km per second.

Back in 2009, researchers first saw hints of the scale of the explosion. Now using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (Alma), based in northern Chile, astronomers have been able to see the violent event in high resolution.

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