The researchers say their observations -- to be published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics -- reveal how matter is being dragged into the centre of the huge gaseous cloud by the gravitational pull of the forming star -- or stars -- along a number of dense threads or filaments.

"The remarkable observations from ALMA allowed us to get the first really in-depth look at what was going on within this cloud," said lead author Dr Nicolas Peretto, from Cardiff University. "We wanted to see how monster stars form and grow, and we certainly achieved our aim. One of the sources we have found is an absolute giant -- the largest protostellar core ever spotted in the Milky Way!