WebbSpace Telescope Reveals Young Stars in Early Formation
Scientists took a "deep dive" into one of Webb's iconic first images and discovered dozens of energetic jets and flows of young stars previously obscured by clouds of dust.
The discovery marks the beginning of a new era of investigation into how stars like our Sun form, and how radiation from nearby massive stars might affect the evolution of planets.
Cosmic cliffs, located at the edge of space within the star cluster NGC 3324, have long intrigued astronomers as a focal point for star formation. Although well studied by the Hubble Space Telescope, many details about star formation in NGC 3324 remain obscured by visible light wavelengths.
Webb is perfectly designed to extract these desired details, because it is built to detect jets and flows, which are visible in high-resolution infrared photography. Webb's capabilities also allow researchers to track the movement of other features previously captured by the Hubble telescope.
"What Webb gives us is a snapshot in time, to see how star formation happens, in what may be a typical corner of the universe, that we haven't been able to see before," said astronomer Megan Reiter of Rice University in Houston, Texas, who led the study.