The James Webb Space Telescope on Wednesday revealed new images of a large bell-shaped dust cloud surrounding a forming star.
These hitherto hidden orange and blue clouds were visible with 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’, is located in the constellation Taurus, hidden in the darkness at the edge of the swirling disk of gas at the neck of the Milky Way.
But light from the protostar “leaks” above and below the disk, illuminating holes in the surrounding gas and dust, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) explained in a joint statement.
Clouds are formed when material ejected from a star collides with surrounding material. Dust is finer in blue areas and thicker in orange areas.
At 100,000 years old, the protostar is in the early stages of its formation. She couldn’t develop her powers yet.
The black disk around it, roughly the size of our solar system, will provide material until the protostar reaches the “threshold necessary to initiate nuclear fusion,” the study said, according to NASA and ESA.
“Ultimately, this view of L1527 provides a window into what our early Sun and Solar System looked like,” the two institutions added.
The molecular cloud in Taurus, located about 430 light-years from Earth, is the nursery home of hundreds upon hundreds of stars.
James Webb, whose first color images were released in July, is conducting its observations at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
One of the main objectives of this $10 billion telescope is to study the life cycle of stars.