Webb Celebrates First Year of Science With Close-up on Birth of Sun-like Stars

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Klaus Pontoppidan (STScI), Image Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Staff report

July 12, 2023

The James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) marks its first year of scientific exploration by presenting a glimpse into the birth of Sun-like stars, according to NASA. With a close-up of Rho Ophiuchi, the nearest star-forming region to Earth, Webb has uncovered approximately 50 young stars, many possessing a mass similar to our own star. This observation offers insight into the early stages of the Sun’s life. The image showcases the presence of dark, dense dust cocoons enveloping protostars in their nascent phase, while a stellar newborn located at the top center releases two colossal jets composed of molecular hydrogen.

Webb’s remarkable capability to capture the universe in high-resolution, spanning from ancient galaxies in the far reaches of space to our very own solar system, has provided scientists with an understanding of our cosmic origins. This milestone of Webb’s first year of operation serves as a testament to the achievements made possible by this advanced space observatory.

The image released by NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Klaus Pontoppidan (STScI), and processed by Alyssa Pagan (STScI), portrays a mesmerizing scene. The top half of the image showcases vibrant red dual opposing jets emitted by the youthful stars, filling the darkness with their radiant energy. At the center of the image, a luminous pale yellow structure, reminiscent of a cave, captures attention with its tilted top leaning toward the two o’clock position. Within the cave, a brilliant star shines brightly, illuminating the surrounding dust. The dust particles exhibit a wispy appearance as they extend toward the eight o’clock direction. Positioned above the arched top of the dust cave, three groups of stars adorned with diffraction spikes grace the scene. At the summit of the glowing dust cave, a dark cloud rests, while one of its streamers gracefully descends along the right-hand side. The central area of the dark cloud appears constricted, accompanied by the emergence of light in a triangular shape both above and below the pinch, revealing the presence of a star concealed within the cloud. The image further showcases the grandeur of nature as the largest jets of red material sprout from the heart of this dark cloud, displaying a rugged cliff-like structure that emits a luminous glow along its edges. Toward the top center, another star casts a larger pinched dark shadow, this time vertically. Adjacent to this star, a more diffuse and indistinct region can be observed, adding to the intricate beauty of the cosmic landscape.

For more information, please visit: go.nasa.gov/3JYxlbp

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Klaus Pontoppidan (STScI), Image Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

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