James Webb reveals a grandiose hourglass of dust around a young star

published on Wednesday 16 November 2022 at 19:56.

The James Webb Space Telescope revealed blazing new images Wednesday of a massive hourglass-shaped cloud of dust surrounding a star in shape.

Hitherto hidden, these orange and blue clouds have been made visible by the telescope’s NIRCam instrument, which operates in the near infrared – a wavelength invisible to the human eye.

The very young star, known as “protostar L1527” and located in the constellation Taurus, is hidden in the darkness at the edge of a rotating disk of gas at the neck of the hourglass.

But light from this protostar “leaks” above and below this disc, illuminating voids in the surrounding gas and dust, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) explained in a joint statement.

Clouds are created by material ejected from the star colliding with surrounding material. The dust is finer in the blue parts, thicker in the orange parts.

Only 100,000 years old, the protostar is in the earliest stages of its formation. She is not yet able to generate her own energy.

The black disk around it, about the size of our solar system, will supply the protostar with materials until it reaches “the threshold necessary to start nuclear fusion,” the research said. NASA and ESA.

“Ultimately, this view of L1527 provides a window into what our early sun and solar system looked like,” the two agencies added.

The Taurus Molecular Cloud, located about 430 light-years from Earth, is a stellar nursery for hundreds of nearly formed stars.

James Webb, whose first color images were revealed in July, is conducting its observations 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

One of the main purposes of this $10 billion telescope is to study the life cycle of stars.

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