Thursday, 2 February, 2023
E-paper

NEWS board

Fiery hourglass of star formation

The James Webb Space Telescope has captured this image of the “fiery cosmic hourglass” of a dark cloud hiding a protostar.

These clouds are within the Taurus star-forming region and are only visible in infrared light, making them an appropriate candidate to be captured by Webb’s NIRCam.

The protostar, which is hidden from view, is in the “neck” of the hourglass. The dark line that is visible cutting across the neck is a protoplanetary disc. The light from the star leaks on both sides of this disc, which illuminates the cavities in the gas and dust.

Under normal circumstances, stars would forming throughout the cloud but the shocks and turbulence from the protostar stop this. Due to this, the protostar dominates the region and takes much of the material for itself.