Skywatchers: Images of Cosmic hourglass signal a star is born

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captured startling images of a cosmic hourglass with a new star inside. The birth of protostar L1527 is seen in those images.

Before a star begins developing hydrogen a mass is in its center and before nucleosynthesis begins it is a protostar. Stars are formed when they heat up and attract particles and gas.

The haunting color and light of this process are shown in the space telescope’s photos.

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These well-lit clouds within the Taurus star-forming region only become visible in infrared light. And the high-level Webb provides that. Since it was put in service in July never before seen images have been surfacing.

This protostar is about 100,000 years old. A young star when compared to the Earth’s sun, which is estimated to be 4.6 billion years old. And the new star is about 20% to 40% of the mass of our sun.

Webb telescope shows a cosmic hourglass

The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope uses its Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), to unveil the features of a protostar within the dark cloud. These are some of the first clear pictures giving us insight into the process of how a new star develops.

The space telescope and camera system are maintained by an international partnership of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency.

According to a news release at esawebb.org, the protostar is not yet able to generate its energy through nuclear fusion. Although it will eventually go nuclear with hydrogen.  It remains unstable for now.

“Shocks and turbulence inhibit the formation of new stars, which would otherwise form throughout the cloud. As a result, the protostar dominates the space, taking much of the material for itself,” according to the news release.

“The region’s most prevalent features, the blue and orange clouds, outline cavities created as material shoots away from the protostar and collides with the surrounding matter. The colors themselves are due to layers of dust between Webb and the clouds. The blue areas are where the dust is thinnest. The thicker the layer of dust, the less blue light can escape, creating pockets of orange,” the article continues.