The powerful James Webb Space Telescope is a powerful technological tool. Astrophysicists first designed it more than 20 years ago, and after many twists and turns it was launched on December 25, 2021. Sun-Earth L2 pointI hope it will continue to operate for 20 years.
It’s only been a few months since her first images were released, and she’s already making progress in answering some of the Universe’s most compelling questions.
In a newly released image, JWST peered deep into massive clouds of gas and dust to watch young stars come to life in their stellar cocoons.
One of the first images of JWST was of ‘Cosmic Abyss’. The Cosmic Abyss is the edge of an active star forming region in NGC 3324, a star cluster near the Carina Nebula.
The image shows intense ultraviolet energy from hot young stars that are shaping the region, opening cavernous spaces and leaving towers of gas that resist radiation.
Back in July, we were all stunned by this image, but scientists have delved into the image to learn more about the region and the star-forming activity that is occurring there. This Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) published an article presenting the results of their work.
titled “Deep diving from the ‘Cosmic Cliffs’: previously hidden exits in NGC 3324 uncovered by JWST.The lead author is astronomer Megan Reiter of Rice University in Houston, Texas.
Researchers took a closer look at the Webb image and found more than two dozen exits from never-before-seen hot young stars. There’s everything from “small fountains to gushing giants,” according to a press release announcing the results. Some outlets are several light-years away from their star.
“What Webb gives us is a snapshot in time to see how much star formation is going on in a more typical corner of the universe that we haven’t seen before,” Reiter said.
JWST’s powerful infrared capabilities ignited this work. It can focus on molecular hydrogen, the main substance of stars. It is an excellent monitor for star formation activity because as young stars grow, they take up hydrogen and expel some of it through jets and polar vents. called star feedbackand these jets create cavities in the gas and dust clouds in the image.
Young protostars still forming are obscured by the dense molecular clouds that gave birth to them. But JWST has the power to see through these clouds. Studying young stars within the clouds is one of the telescope’s four main scientific goals.
Long before the telescope is completed and launched, a NASA website states, “Webb will be able to see through and through large dust clouds that are opaque to visible-light observatories like Hubble, where stars and planetary systems are born.”
Now we see all these promises come true.
“Jets like these are beacons for the most exciting part of the star formation process. We only see them during a short time period when protostar is actively accumulating,” said co-author Nathan Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
The more astronomers learn about young stars forming elsewhere, the more they learn about how our own Sun formed and how our Solar System formed. JWST expands and deepens our understanding of the complex mechanisms behind their formation.
“It opens the door to what’s possible in terms of looking at these nascent populations of stars in fairly typical environments of the Universe, invisible until the James Webb Space Telescope,” Reiter added.
“We now know where to look to discover which variables are important for the formation of Sun-like stars.”
Exit jets in the early stages of star formation are difficult to observe because they occur in a thick blanket of gas and only last for a short time. Jets can only fly for a few thousand years, maybe ten thousand years. Using JWST’s powerful filters, the astronomers studied some of the jets and outflows implied by the original Cosmic Abyss image.
“In the image released for the first time in July, you see hints of this activity, but these jets are only visible when you start that deep dive – by examining data from each of the different filters and analyzing each area individually,” said team member Jon Morse. From the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
“It’s like finding buried treasure.”
Understanding how young stars form is one of the primary pursuits in astrophysics today. Collective light from the first stars helped reionize the early Universe. Prior to The Age of Reionization, a dense fog of primordial gas obscured the Universe. During Reionization, light from young stars helped clear the fog from the Universe and allowed the light to travel.
But astrophysicists don’t know how these first stars formed, and addressing this question is one of JWST’s key scientific goals. JWST can see highly redshifted objects from the early days of the Universe, but cannot pick out individual stars.
That’s why these newly released images are so important. Astrophysicists cannot study the formation of the first stars, but they can watch the young stars forming today and work their way towards a more solid understanding of the Re-ionization Age.
This isn’t the first time astronomers have studied young stars forming in this region. Hubble looked 16 years ago.
While Hubble wasn’t able to discern as much detail as James Webb, it did reveal enough for the study authors to compare how jets and outlets have changed in the intervening years.
The measurements show the speed and direction the jets are moving, the details necessary to understand young stars.
These are Early Release Images (ERO) and are only the beginning of JWST and its study of star formation.
“Future observations will allow for quantitative analysis of the excitation, mass loss rates and velocities of these new flows,” the authors write.
“NGC 3324, a relatively modest region of massive star formation, offers a preview of what JWST star formation studies can yield.”
Future observations will be more comprehensive and detailed. They will help shed more light on one of astronomy’s hottest topics: how young stars drive planet formation.
Feedback mechanisms mark young stars. They are still growing, and while they collect gas from the clouds in which they are buried, they release some of the gas back into their environment with their jets. Outflows of gas help shape protoplanetary disks and form planets like ours.
A better understanding of these outputs leads to a better understanding of the planets and, by a complex extension, the possibility of life elsewhere.
Our Solar System probably formed in a cluster similar to the one in this study. Astronomers aren’t sure yet, but they can shed some light on our origins by uncovering details in NGC 3324.
We live in the universeStar Age“according to the book”Five Ages of the Universe” In this age, matter is primarily organized into stars, galaxies, and galaxy clusters. Stars produce most of the energy in the universe and will for a long time to come. Since stars provide the energy necessary for life, it can easily be called the Star Age. Life Period.
JWST can collect ancient light from the first stars and galaxies and peer deep into stellar cocoons to show us how stars were born. The results are fascinating scientific insights, but JWST does something else besides answering our scientific questions. It gives context to humanity’s existence in the Age of Life of the Universe.
The Sun is no different from other stars. The same forces drove its birth and evolution, and the Sun would emit the same outbursts and polar jets as the young stars in this image. These feedback mechanisms could have shaped the protoplanetary disk in which Earth formed.
Therefore, every time we see pictures of young stars elsewhere, we learn something about our origins. We are fortunate that the James Webb Space Telescope has shown us these vivid, comprehensive views of the birth of stars. Gorgeous, elegant detail carries the mind as well as the eye. We can sit and wonder if life, or even another civilization, will emerge around each of them.
This article was originally published by Universe Today. To read original article.
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