NASA starts countdown to new star's creation, offering glimpse into solar system's history
UTAH (ABC4) – NASA’s James Webb telescope unveiled the “once-hidden” beginnings of a new star, which the space organization refers to as a “protostar L1527,” a discovery that could give scientists a glimpse into the history of our solar system.
The look at the beginning phases of the new star reveals an “hourglass” shape illuminated with hues of orange, red and blue. According to NASA, concealed in the neck of the hourglass of light is the start of a new star, which is said to be at the “relatively young” age of only about 100,000 years.
NASA said the clouds of dust and gas in the region are only visible in infrared light, which the James Webb telescope specializes in seeing.
In a Twitter thread sharing the discovery from an account identified as that of the NASA Webb Telescope, light from the protostar is illuminating cavities in the dust and gas above and below its disk.
“Think of flashlights pointing in opposite directions, each shining a cone of light,” the tweet reads. “The blue areas are where dust is thinnest, while orange represents thicker layers of dust.”
The Twitter thread explains that the protoplanetary disk — where light is being emitted above and below — can be seen as a very thin dark line at the center of the hourglass. NASA said the line is an edge-on view of this diskl, which is feeding material to the protostar.
Right now, NASA says, the protostar is “a hot, puffy clump of gas” that is only about 20% to 40% the mass of our sun. As materials are pulled in toward the disk, the core will compress and get hotter, eventually beginning nuclear fusion. Given the young age of the protostar, it doesn’t yet generate its own energy, nor does it have much of a shape, so it still has a long time to go before it becomes a full-fledged star.
The disk is reportedly about the size of our solar system, and NASA researchers believe this may eventually clump into planets, resembling what our solar system looked like in its infancy.
The James Webb Telescope, originally launched on Christmas Day in 2021, has provided scientists and space lovers with breathtaking photos of the great unknown since its first images in June. Webb has given scientists new looks at celestial bodies such as the Pillars of Creation and the Tarantula Nebula, thanks to upgraded technology compared to that of the Hubble Telescope.