The james webb space telescope managed to unearth a revealing new image for the scientific community: a “stellar nursery” in the Tarantula Nebula. In the Large Magellanic Cloud, only 161,000 light-years away, it is about the largest and brightest star-forming region in the local groupthe galaxies closest to the Milky Way.
It is home to the hottest and most massive stars known, also known as “30 Doradus”. The area resembles the home of a burrowing tarantula, lined with its silk, as described by the European Space Agency (ESA), which is participating with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency on the telescope. The Tarantula Nebula is nicknamed for the the appearance of its dusty filaments seen in previous images from space telescopes, and has long been a favorite of astronomers studying star formation.
The main reason is that this nebula has a type of chemical composition similar to the gigantic star-forming regions observed in the “cosmic noon” of the universe, when the cosmos was only a few billion years old and star formation was at its peakexplains NASA.
The star-forming regions of our galaxy, the Milky Way, do not produce stars at the same rapid rate as the Tarantula Nebula and have a different chemical composition. This makes the tarantula is the closest example (i.e. easier to see in detail) of what was happening in the universe when it reached its bright peak.
Webb will provide astronomers with the ability to compare and contrast observations of star formation in the Tarantula Nebula with deep telescope observations of distant galaxies in the real-world “cosmic noon” era.
What exactly did James Webb catch?
To take the image, the space telescope James Webb used the near infrared camera (NIR Cam). The nebula cavity centered in the photo was carved out by searing radiation from a cluster of massive young stars, which glow pale blue. Only the denser surrounding areas of the nebula resist erosion by the powerful stellar winds of these stars, forming pillars that appear to point toward the cluster, NASA describes.
These pillars contain protoestrels In the formation, which will eventually emerge from their dusty cocoons and in turn shape the nebula. Specifically, Webb’s near-infrared spectrograph (NIR spec) captured a very young star in the process.
“Two space telescopes, twice the power of stars.
This #transformational tuesdaylook like @NASAHubbleThe view of the Tarantula Nebula fades into Webb’s NIRCam, then into the MIRI instrument views. Hubble and Webb will work together to present the universe through multiple wavelengths of light. pic.twitter.com/GDIRSWWFQV“
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) September 6, 2022
Astronomers previously thought this star might be a bit older and already cleaning up a bubble around it. However, NIRspec showed that the star was just beginning to emerge from its pillar and that it still contained around it an insulating cloud of dust. Without Webb’s high-resolution spectra at infrared wavelengths, this episode of star formation in action could not have been revealed.
“Nursery stars” take on a different appearance when viewed in the longer infrared wavelengths detected by the mid-infrared instrument (MIRI) by Webb. Hot stars fade and cooler gas and dust glow. In the stellar brood clouds, points of light indicate embedded protostars, which continue to gain mass.
While the shorter wavelengths of light are absorbed or scattered by the nebula’s dust grains and therefore never reach the Webb, the longer mid-infrared wavelengths penetrate this dust. , finally revealing a cosmic environment never seen before.
The James Webb Telescope is just beginning to rewrite the history of star creation.