Child stars throw cosmic tantrums in this iconic James Webb Space Telescope photo
Scientists re-examining the James Webb Space Telescope’s “cosmic slopes” image of the star cluster NGC 3324 discovered a rare sight: protostars emitting two dozen powerful jets and outflows.
Although the process itself isn’t surprising—astronomers were already aware that this phenomenon occurs during star formation—it was difficult to image because of the thick clouds of dust and gas that surround the boys. stars. the Hubble Space TelescopeFor example, he also imaged NGC 3324, but couldn’t see the jets in visible light. the James Webb Space TelescopeHowever, it has more powerful equipment and is seen in infrared light, which has revealed jets, some of which span several light years.
But the planes weren’t even visible originally.”cosmic slopes“Snapshot”. In the image first released in July, you see hints of this activity, but these jets are only visible when you embark on that deep dive — dissecting the data from each of the different filters and analyzing each region individually,” John Morse, an astronomer at the Institute California Tech who participated in the research, said in a statement. “It’s like finding buried treasure.”
Gallery: First images from the James Webb Space Telescope
Moreover, these energetic emissions are fairly short-lived, which makes them more difficult to detect. “Jets like these are signs of the most exciting part of the star formation process,” Nathan Smith, an astronomer at the University of Arizona and co-author of a new study on the discovery, said in the release. “We only see them over a short period of time when the protostar is actively accreting.”
During this period, young stars extract gas and dust from their environment in order to grow. The window during which protostars gather usually lasts from a few thousand to 10,000 years—a blink of an eye in the life of a star. Accretion is a chaotic process, however, and most stars in this phase eject some material, forming outflows and outflows like the ones Webb sees.
Scientists are particularly excited about these specific jets, because they seem to be forming in an environment similar to ours the sun place of birth.
“It opens the door to what might be possible in terms of looking at these clusters of infant stars in environments fairly typical of the universe that were invisible until the James Webb Space Telescope,” Megan Reiter, an astronomer at Rice University in Texas who led the study, said. in the statement. “Now we know where to look next to explore important variables for formation Sun-like stars. “
The research is described in a paper Published October 4 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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