Thanks to highly advanced new instruments on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, scientists are getting a closer look at one of the telescope’s most dazzling early images, which has revealed a “scientific treasure trove,” RT reports.
The astronomers targeted James Webb’s infrared instruments at the so-called “cosmic slopes” within the massive Carina Nebula (or base cloud), more specifically, the star cluster NGC 3324.
The resulting images were in the first batch of observations we saw from the new telescope last July, but now the researchers have made a deeper analysis of the data, and found a ‘crop’ of newborn stars at a stage of development rarely seen.
Hubble has observed this corner of the universe in the past, but James Webb’s infrared eyes allow him to see clouds of dust and gas for the first time to detect dozens of energetic jets of material from young stars.
“Such jets are markers of the most exciting part of the star formation process. We only see them over a short period of time when the protostar is rapidly accreting,” researcher Nathan Smith of the University of Arizona said in a statement.
He continued, “This window is only a few thousand years out of the many millions it takes for a star to fully form. It’s a bit like Hubble allowed us to spy on stellar nurseries from across the universe, but James Webb allowed astronomers to open the doors of that nursery to cast A look at how newborns, powered by nuclear power, grow and develop indoors.”
Smith co-authored a paper outlining the discovery, published this month in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Study co-scientist John Morse, from Caltech, added: “In the image first released in July, you see hints of this activity, but these jets only appear when you embark on that deep dive – dissecting the data from each of the filters.” different areas and analyzing each area separately, it’s like finding buried treasure.”
Astronomers say the discovery could usher in a new era of better understanding of how stars like our Sun form and how all the radiation from star formation in turn affects the evolution of nearby planets.