James Webb Telescope Captures Cosmic Hourglass During Star Birth

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The cosmic chaos caused by a very young star has been captured in the latest image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

The protostar at the center of the image is hidden by an hourglass-shaped dark cloud of gas and dust. The dark line in the middle of the hourglass is a protoplanetary disk – dense gas and dust that could form a planet in the future – the size of our solar system. Light from the protostar scatters above and below this disk, according to a NASA press release.

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She still has a long way to go before becoming a full-fledged star. L1527, as the protostar and its cloud are known, is only around 100,000 years old – a relatively young celestial body compared to our Sun, which is around 4.6 billion years old.

The blue and orange clouds in the image mark the pits created when material moves away from the protostar and collides with surrounding matter, the statement noted.

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The nebula’s vibrant colors are only visible in the infrared light detected by Webb’s near-infrared camera (NIRCam). Infrared light is invisible to the human eye, making Webb particularly essential for revealing hidden aspects of the universe.

The blue areas are where the dust is finer. The thicker the dust layer, the less blue light can escape, creating areas of orange color.

“Shocks and turbulence inhibit the formation of new stars, which would otherwise form along the cloud. As a result, the protostar dominates space, taking much of the material with it,” according to the press release.

The protostar does not yet generate its own energy through nuclear fusion of hydrogen, an essential feature of stars. Its shape – a bloated mass of hot gas between 20% and 40% the mass of our Sun – is also unstable.

The image provides the context for understanding what our Sun and solar system might have looked like in their infancy.

Webb, which began sharing new perspectives on the universe in July, is an international partnership between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Source: CNN Brasil

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