December 1, 2022


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Unique image from the Webb telescope.  This is the birth of a protostar

Unique image from the Webb telescope. This is the birth of a protostar

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Cosmic telescope James Webb has been surprising us for months with previously inaccessible images of distant galaxies and nebulae in the Milky Way. This time, Webb scientists targeted an exceptionally young protostar that had not yet begun to emit visible light.

“Fiery Hourglass” pictured with Webb. This is the birth of a protostar

This object – designated L1527 – was captured in near infrared (using the NIRCam camera). Being able to observe in this light was crucial because the unusual clouds seen in the web image are only visible in infrared light. L1527 is located in the star-forming region of the constellation ox.

Zipper Gas It looks like a cosmic hourglass in the image, and in its center is the aforementioned protostar. The researchers estimate that L1527 formed only about 100,000 years ago. For years, she classified it as a protostar Class 0 – So we are dealing with the first stage in the process of star formation. Thus, Webb captured an exceptionally short (in measure of the star’s entire life) evolutionary period.

This object continues to capture the surrounding matter by gravity, which increases its mass. This causes the protostar’s core to contract more and more under the gravitational pressure of fresh matter. It will continue to do so until hydrogen fusion reactions begin in the core. Then the newly formed star begins to emit visible light.

At the moment, we can only see it thanks to the infrared radiation emitted by the contraction. Calculations show that currently the future star is from 20 to 40 percent. The mass of the sun – and although it already looks like a ball – has not yet taken its final shape.

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What is not visible in Webb’s image is the accretion disk in the immediate vicinity of L1527 (only the disk’s shadow, which is the size of the entire solar system, can be seen in the image). The material collected by the star from the cloud rotates in the disk, and gradually falls into the core (this process is called accretion, hence the name accretion disk). The whole process affects the characteristic (hourglass-like) appearance of the entire molecular cloud, which is “sucked” into the accretion disk, and then into the core of the protostar.

This whole process makes temperature The future star is growing. When the core reaches the temperature necessary for the thermonuclear reaction to occur, L1527 will become a full-fledged star. The remnants of matter will turn into a protoplanetary disk in which the planets of the future star can be born. Scientists note that Webb’s image allows for the first time to explain in a vivid way how planetary systems like ours form.

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