Webb telescope shows luminous hourglass around forming star

Webb telescope shows luminous hourglass around forming star

The colorful clouds are only visible in infrared light, so had never been seen before being captured by the James Webb Space Telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope on Wednesday unveiled its latest image of celestial majesty, an ethereal hourglass of orange and blue dust being launched from a newly forming star at its center.

The colorful clouds are only visible in infrared light, so they had never been seen before they were captured by Webb’s near-infrared (NIRCam) camera, NASA and the European Space Agency said in a statement.

The very young star, known as protostar L1527, is hidden in the darkness by the rim of a spinning disk of gas at the hourglass’s neck.

However, light streams out of the disk at the top and bottom, illuminating the hourglass-shaped clouds.

The clouds are formed by material being ejected from the star and colliding with surrounding matter, the statement said. The dust is thinnest in the blue areas and thickest in the orange areas, he added.

The only 100,000 year old protostar in the earliest stage of star formation is not yet able to generate its own energy.

The surrounding black disk, about the size of our solar system, will feed the protostar material until it eventually “reaches the threshold for nuclear fusion to begin,” the statement said.

“Ultimately, this view of L1527 offers a glimpse of what our Sun and solar system looked like in its infancy,” she added.

This video zooms in on protostar L152 to show the object as seen by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, embedded in a cloud of material that fuels its growth. Material ejected from the star has eroded voids above and below it, the boundaries of which glow orange and blue in this infrared view. The upper central region shows bubble-like shapes due to stellar “burps” or sporadic ejections. Webb also detects filaments of molecular hydrogen that have been shocked by previous stellar ejections. Interestingly, the edges of the upper-left and lower-right cavities appear straight, while the upper-right and lower-left boundaries are curved. The lower-right region appears blue because there is less dust between it and Webb than the orange regions above. Image credits: ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, unWISE/JPL-Caltech/D. Lang (Perimeter Institute), E. Slawik, N. Risinger, N. Bartmann, M. Zamani Music: Tonelabs – The Red North (www.tonelabs.com)

The protostar resides in the Taurus molecular cloud, a stellar nursery home to hundreds of nearly-formed stars some 430 light-years from Earth.

In operation since July, Webb is the most powerful space telescope ever built and has already unleashed a series of unprecedented data and stunning images. Scientists hope it will usher in a new era of discovery.

One of the main goals of the $10 billion telescope is to study the life cycle of stars. Another research focus are exoplanets, planets outside of Earth’s solar system.

© 2022 AFP

Quote: Webb Telescope Reveals Blazing Hourglass Around Forming Star (2022, November 24) Retrieved November 24, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-webb-telescope-reveals-blazing-hourglass. html

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