A stunning image of cosmic beauty, consisting of an ethereal hourglass of orange and blue dust being thrown out from a newly emerging star at its core, was recently photographed by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
The telescope has revealed the once-hidden features of the protostar within the dark cloud L1527, providing insight into the beginnings of a new star. These blazing clouds within the Taurus star-forming region are only visible in infrared light, so they had never been seen before, making them an ideal target for Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), NASA and the European Space Agency said in a statement.
“The region’s most prevalent features, the clouds coloured blue and orange in this representative-color infrared image, outline cavities created as material shoots away from the protostar and collides with surrounding matter. The colours themselves are due to layers of dust between Webb and the clouds. The blue areas are where the dust is thinnest. The thicker the layer of dust, the less blue light is able to escape, creating pockets of orange,” it added.
Countdown to a new star ⏳
Hidden in the neck of this “hourglass” of light are the very beginnings of a new star — a protostar. The clouds of dust and gas within this region are only visible in infrared light, the wavelengths that Webb specializes in: https://t.co/DtazblATMWpic.twitter.com/aGEEBO9BB8
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) November 16, 2022
The statement further said that despite the chaos that L1527 causes, it’s only about 100,000 years old making it a relatively young body. Given its age and its brightness in far-infrared light as observed by missions like the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, L1527 is considered a class 0 protostar, the earliest stage of star formation.
The protostar is located in the Taurus molecular cloud, a stellar nursery home to hundreds of nearly formed stars around 430 light years from Earth.
Operational since July, the Webb Space Telescope is the most powerful space telescope ever built and has already unleashed a raft of unprecedented data as well as stunning images. Scientists are hopeful it will herald a new era of discovery.
One of the main goals of the $10-billion telescope is to study the life cycle of stars. Another main research focus is on exoplanets, planets outside Earth’s solar system.
(With inputs from AFP)
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