NASA has taken to its blog and social channels to share yet another phenomenal image snapped by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
This time around, NASA's newest and most-powerful space telescope has honed its sensitive instruments on a protostar shrouded in a dark cloud - L1527. Webb's infrared instruments, capable of peering through the thick interstellar clouds, revealed new details to astronomers, giving insight into the early formation of stars and the strange shapes that they make during their formation. Above is a protostar shrouded within a dark cloud of material feeding the young star's growth.
The incredible colors seen above and below the star, which is at the "neck" of the hourglass, are a result of celestial "burps" from the star consuming the surrounding cloud material, and ejecting it out. The blue dust represents an area where the dust is the thinnest, while the red color represents an area where the dust is the thickest.
"Despite the chaos that L1527 causes, it's only about 100,000 years old - a relatively young body. Given its age and its brightness in far-infrared light as observed by missions like the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, L1527 is considered a class 0 protostar, the earliest stage of star formation. Protostars like these, which are still cocooned in a dark cloud of dust and gas, have a long way to go before they become full-fledged stars.
L1527 doesn't generate its own energy through nuclear fusion of hydrogen yet, an essential characteristic of stars. Its shape, while mostly spherical, is also unstable, taking the form of a small, hot, and puffy clump of gas somewhere between 20 and 40% the mass of our Sun," wrote NASA.