James Webb Space Telescope captures star being born 1,300 light-years from Earth

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Although telescopes have been around for a while, a number of incredible discoveries have been made in recent years through the use of the specialist equipment.

An incredible image has been released from the James Webb Space Telescope, providing brand new clues into how the stars we see in the night sky are formed.

The newly released photo shows protostar HH 212, which is located about 1,300 light-years from Earth.

The newly released image. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, Mark McCaughrean & Sam Pearson, CC BY-SA

According to the BBC, the resulting star is probably no older than 50,000 years old.

HH 212 was first discovered by astronomers in 1993 near Orion’s belt.

Since then, experts have taken many images to try to discover how the nascent star slowly forms over a period of thirty years.

The latest image reveals interesting details about star formation, with astronomers seeing symmetrical pink plumes of gas emissions coming from both sides of the protostar.

According to Mark McCaughrean, senior advisor at the European Space Agency, this is apparently the “first time” scientists have seen a “good color image” of the protostar. Such an image has not previously been possible with ground-based telescopes.

Physics suggests that the outflow of gas observed in the protostar is the way it regulates its birth.

McCaughrean told the BBC: ‘As the lumpy gas ball in the center is compressed, it rotates. But if it spins too fast, it will fly apart, so there must be something taking away the angular momentum.

Older images are certainly not as clear.  Credit: ESO, Mark J. McCaughrean
Older images are certainly not as clear. Credit: ESO, Mark J. McCaughrean

“We think they’re jets and outflows. We think that as all the material shrinks, magnetic fields contract and some of the material coming in through the disk is captured by magnetic fields and thrown out through the poles. That’s why we call these structures bipolar.”

The BBC report states that the scene captured by the telescope “would have looked much the same” as it did when our sun was in its developing stages.

The James Webb Space Telescope is truly making history with this discovery, with Nicola Fox, deputy director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, previously saying: ‘Webb has given us a more complex understanding of galaxies, stars and the atmospheres of planets beyond our Earth . solar system than ever before, laying the foundation for NASA to lead the world into a new era of scientific discovery and the search for habitable worlds.”

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