Baby star’s ‘first screams’ caught on James Webb’s camera
The arrival of a newborn baby is usually accompanied by dramatic screams – and it seems the birth of a new star in our great cosmos is no different.
A stunning new photo from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) shows sprawling red jets of gas coming from a newborn star.
This baby star or ‘protostar’ is at the centre of a curious astronomical region called Herbig-Haro (HH) 212, which is only visible as infrared light, Daily Mail reported.
HH212 is located about 1,300 light-years away in the constellation Orion, much like its neighbour HH111, known for looking like a lightsaber from Star Wars.
Scientists think HH212’s star is no more than 50,000 years old – very young in astronomical terms – but it will eventually grow to become the mass of our sun.
In comparison, our own star – the sun – is around 4.5 billion years old and about halfway through its life.
HH212 has been known about for 30 years, but this new image shows the region in unprecedented detail.
‘Our new JWST image spans six wavelengths and is 10 times sharper than any previous infrared image,’ said Professor Mark McCaughrean, senior science advisor at the European Space Agency (ESA).
‘We first discovered HH212 in 1993 using the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Maunkea in Hawai’i.
‘We’ve observed it many times since on increasingly large telescopes and with better and better infrared cameras and better resolution.
‘Safe to say though, the JWST images blow all that away.’
In the new James Webb image, which is about 2.3 light years wide, we cannot see the protostar itself because it is ‘hidden’.
Instead, we see the pinky-red ‘jets’ and ‘outflows’ of matter that originate from the star and go in opposite directions.