Hitherto hidden, these orange and blue clouds were made visible by the telescope’s NIRCam instrument, which operates in the near infrared – a wavelength invisible to the human eye.
The very young star, known as ‘protostar L1527’ and located in the constellation Taurus, is hidden in the dark by the edge of a spinning disk of gas at the neck of the hourglass.
But light from this protostar “leaks” above and below this disk, illuminating cavities in the surrounding gas and dust, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) explained in a joint statement.
Clouds are created by material ejected from the star colliding with surrounding material. The dust is finer in the blue parts, thicker in the orange parts.
Only 100,000 years old, the protostar is at the earliest stage of its formation. She is not yet able to generate her own energy.
The black disk around it, roughly the size of our solar system, will supply the protostar with materials until it reaches “the threshold necessary to start nuclear fusion”, the study said. NASA and ESA.
“Ultimately, this view of L1527 provides a window into what our early Sun and solar system looked like,” the two agencies added.
The Molecular Cloud in Taurus, located about 430 light-years from Earth, is a stellar nursery home to hundreds of nearly formed stars.
The James Webb, whose first color images were unveiled in July, is conducting its observations 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
One of the main purposes of this $10 billion telescope is to study the life cycle of stars.