What is a T Tauri star?

They’re stars but what’s so interesting about them?

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T Tauri stars are very young and can be found surrounded by clouds of gas and dust

T Tauri stars are very young and can be found surrounded by clouds of gas and dust. Image Credit: NASA

Asked by James Grimsby

T Tauri stars take after their prototype T Tauri. This is a star that rests over 400 light years away and appears to sit in the Hyades star cluster in the constellation Taurus. This star type is variable in nature: we say that a star is variable when we observe changes in its luminosity – which is either caused by the star itself or when an object appears to eclipse it.

These stars usually have no more than three solar masses and can usually be found close to vast molecular clouds of gas and dust. They are often quite young, usually ranging from 100,000 to 100 million years old (a toddler in stellar terms) as they slowly begin to evolve along the main sequence.

T Tauri stars can be quite active, rotating at a period of a few days in comparison to the 30 days it takes for the Sun to complete one turn. Many also spit out intense and powerful stellar winds.

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