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NASA telescope shows spectacular hourglass image surrounding star formation

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope captured another stunning image showing new star formation.

Taken with the observatory’s $10 billion near-infrared camera (NIRCam), this picture reveals features of a protostar once hidden within the dark cloud L1527.

Clouds within Taurus’ star-forming region are only visible in the infrared.

NASA notes that the protostar itself is hidden within the “neck” of the hourglass-like structure.

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Across the center, the protoplanetary disk appears as a dark line, with light from the protostar leaking around the disk, illuminating cavities in the surrounding gas and dust.

The blue and orange clouds outline the cavities that form when matter moves away from the protostar and collides with surrounding matter.

A protostar in dark cloud L1527, shown in this image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is embedded in a cloud of material that facilitates its growth.
(Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI; Image processing: J. DePasquale, A. Pagan, and A. Koekemoer (STScI))

The blue areas are where the dust between the web and the clouds is thinnest, with thicker layers of dust creating orange pockets.

The shot also reveals filaments of hydrogen molecules that were bombarded when the protostar ejected matter.

The upper central region shows a bubble-like shape due to the stellar “belching”.

Shocks and turbulence impede the formation of new stars. Otherwise, stars will form all over the clouds.

For this reason, protostars rule the universe.

In this April 13, 2017, NASA-supplied photo, technicians use a crane to lift the mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

In this April 13, 2017, NASA-supplied photo, technicians use a crane to lift the mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
((Laura Betts/NASA via AP, File) )

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L1527 is about 100,000 years old and is considered a class 0 protostar — the earliest stage of star formation.

It has not yet produced energy through nuclear fusion of hydrogen, which is an essential feature of stars. Its shape is that of a small, puffy mass of glass, which accounts for 20% to 40% of the mass of the Sun.

The James Webb Space Telescope taken on March 5, 2020.

The James Webb Space Telescope taken on March 5, 2020.
(NASA/Chris Gunn)

The photograph shows L1527 gathering mass, gradually compressing the nucleus, and approaching stable nuclear fusion.

As matter is entrained, it spirals around the center, creating a dense disk called the accretion disk.

This disk, which is about the size of our Solar System and is seen as a dark band in front of a bright center, supplies the protostar with matter, causing the temperature of the protostar’s core to rise.

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Eventually, it reaches the limit point where nuclear fusion begins.

“Ultimately, this view of L1527 provides a window into what our Sun and solar system looked like in our childhood,” NASA said.

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