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Star cluster patterning?

Started by yahganlang, 09/04/2005 12:38PM
Posted 09/04/2005 12:38PM Opening Post
Hi. I was observing last night with my old Coulter 10" reflector and sat down to scan the sky between the Double Cluster and the Pleiades. I started wondering whether there was some sort of patterning to the clusters- it almost seemed as if stars were distributed along long strands, like frog eggs- in some radially extended, in others more spirally- the Pleiades seemed especially like the latter.

Is this an optical illusion caused by the mind's insistance on making sense of randomness, or is there really something going on here? Thanks.

Jess Tauber
Posted 09/04/2005 01:33PM | Edited 09/04/2005 01:35PM #1
Stars are born from dust and gas compressed by shock waves from gravitation or supernovae explosions. This means that they are born mostly on two-dimentional surfaces. Projection of folds of smooth surfaces makes lines. Interestingly, these lines can be easily classified. This classification is one of the subjects of the catastrophe theory (pure geometry, despite its name). One perfect example is Dolidze 36 with its star chain in the shape of whiskers. Another example of these lines are caustics caused by refraction/reflection of light in drinking glasses or telescope optics.

Formation of galaxies follows more or less similar principles (that's why they are flat during their early stages).