Astronomy: Twinkle twinkle, lots of stars

    Astrophys. J. 695, 561–573 (2009)

    Starbursts, periods of intense star formation in galaxies, have long been thought to be short and frenetic, lasting just several million years or so. But it turns out those episodes were just isolated 'flickers', say Kristen McQuinn of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and her colleagues, who measured starbursts in three nearby dwarf galaxies.

    They found the flickers to be interconnected parts of longer starbursts, spread out across each galaxy, and sustained for 200 million–400 million years. These larger, longer starbursts could be responsible for galactic superwinds, which are suspected of being responsible for carrying chemically enriched compounds into intergalactic space.

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    Astronomy: Twinkle twinkle, lots of stars. Nature 458, 810 (2009).

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