NASA’s telescope shows a dramatic hourglass image surrounding the star formation
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured another stunning image, showing the formation of new stars.
Taken with the observatory’s $10 billion Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), the image reveals previously hidden features of the protostar within the dark cloud L1527.
The clouds in the star-forming region of Taurus are only visible in infrared light.
NASA notes that the protostar itself is obscured within the “neck” of the hourglass-like formation.
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In the middle, an edge-on protoplanetary disk appears as a dark line, and light from the protostar filters around the disk, illuminating cavities within the surrounding gas and dust.
The blue and orange clouds outline the cavities that are created as material is pulled away from the protostar, colliding with the surrounding matter.
The blue areas are where the dust between Webb and the clouds is the thinnest, while the thickest layer of dust creates the orange pockets.
In addition, the shot also reveals filaments of molecular hydrogen that have been impacted as the protostar ejects material away from it.
The upper central region shows bubble-like shapes due to stellar “donkeys”.
The shocks and turbulence make it difficult for new stars to form, which would otherwise form throughout the cloud.
Because of this, the protostar dominates space.
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L1527 is about 100,000 years old and is considered a class 0 protostar, the earliest stage of star formation.
It does not yet generate its own energy through the nuclear fusion of hydrogen, which is an essential characteristic of stars. Its shape takes the form of a small cluster of swollen glass and has between 20% and 40% of the mass of the sun.
The photo shows L1527 gathering mass, with its core gradually compressing and approaching stable nuclear fusion.
As the material is drawn in, it spirals around the center, creating a dense disc called the accretion disc.
This disk, seen as a dark band in front of the bright center, about the size of our solar system, feeds material into the protostar and the protostar’s core heats up.
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It finally reaches the threshold to begin nuclear fusion.
“Ultimately, this view of L1527 provides a window into what our sun and solar system looked like in their infancy,” NASA said.