Stars generally have a definite life cycle. Scientists know where in the life cycle a star is simply by how it looks. There are some stars though that defy this convention, such as IRAS 19312+1950 located 12,000 lightyears from us.
For years scientists have wondered about the star IRAS 19312+1950. It has shown characteristics of both an old and young star. On the one hand it has emitted silicon oxide and hydroxyl masers, which are normally from stars that are advanced in its life cycle.
However it has also shown characteristics of a young star, such as having a cloud envelop that is rich in chemicals that aid in the formation of stars, according to Phys Org. With this scientists have been wondering where IRAS 19312+1950 is in the lifecycle.
It has been speculated that the star may actually be a proto star, or one that is in that stage of becoming a star. Astronomers think that this is a star still in its embryo stage. That would then be interesting as this would be one of the few times that astronomers would see a star being formed.
However there are also those who believe that the star is actually on its declining stage. Science Daily reports that researchers believe this is so since there are masers found near it. Masers are molecules that emit much radiation over a limited range of frequency.
What has scientists puzzled though is the presence of the chemical rich gases around it, which could only be found in young stars. Martin Cordiner is an astrochemist for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and he is convinced that the star is in the process of being formed.
What convinced him and a number of his colleagues that it is a star in the process of formation is that it much brighter than when it was first found. Another clue is that there is a large amount of ice made from water and carbon dioxide in the cloud around it. This dense cloud also seem to be collapsing, which shows that the star is taking in material from it. This would then be different from an advanced star, wherein the cloud would have its material ejected into space.
"We think the star is probably in an embryonic stage," Cordiner has said about it. He further points out that it is getting material from the cloud to fuel its growth. Still, most researchers agree that the star is still not typical of a proto star, nor that of an aged star either. With IRAS 19312+1950 having both features of a young and old star, it will continue to baffle scientists for years to come.
For more about stars, check out iTechPost and how white dwarfs might hold the key to dark matter.