It turns out that massive stars form in exactly the same way small stars (like the sun) do. This was the conclusion released last month when a team led by Yichen Zhang at the University of Florida published the most detailed observations ever, taken with the SOFIA telescope, of a massive protostar - a hot bundle of gas that is still collapsing to form a star.
Massive stars are rare beasts that are, in many ways, not very much like the sun at all. Just over 0.1 percent of all stars accumulate enough hydrogen to shine the brightest, and they don't live long. Termed O-stars and B-stars, these are the bright, blue, and incredibly hot stars that will likely end their lives as dramatic supernovae, scattering their ashes across the cosmos.
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Massive stars tend to be found grouped together in herds, known as OB associations, often at the center of larger open clusters of stars. It was long thought that the turbulent conditions in these star clusters may make the formation process for these huge behemoths a rather complicated process. If the protostar G35.20-0.74 (called G35 for short), studied by Zhang and his colleagues is anything to go by, this is probably not the case.