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Webb Celebrates First Anniversary with Stellar Nursery

JWST Celebrates First Anniversary with Image of Stellar Nursery

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Dakota W.

Dakota W.

Wed Jul 12 2023Written by Dakota W.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has completed its first year of science operations, providing us with groundbreaking insights into the universe. To celebrate this milestone, NASA has released an image taken by Webb of a small region in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex where stars are being formed.

In just one year, the James Webb Space Telescope has revolutionized our understanding of the cosmos. It has peered through dusty clouds and captured light from distant corners of the universe, revealing phenomena never seen before. Each new image is a remarkable discovery, enabling scientists worldwide to explore and answer questions that were once unimaginable.

Webb is not only a testament to American innovation but also an international collaboration that pushes the boundaries of what we know. Thousands of engineers, scientists, and leaders have dedicated their efforts to this mission, which continues to enhance our knowledge of the universe's origins and our place within it.

The newly released image from Webb showcases the closest star-forming region to our solar system. Its proximity, located 390 light-years away, allows for a highly detailed view without any intervening foreground stars.

On its first anniversary, the James Webb Space Telescope has fulfilled its promise of unveiling the universe. It has provided humanity with an awe-inspiring collection of images and scientific data that will impact our understanding for decades to come. Webb is an engineering marvel built by the world's top scientists and engineers. It has offered us a deeper understanding of galaxies, stars, and the atmospheres of planets beyond our solar system, setting the stage for NASA to lead a new era of scientific discovery and the search for potentially habitable worlds.

The image captured by Webb depicts approximately 50 young stars, similar in mass to our Sun or smaller. The darkest regions in the image indicate areas with dense dust, where protostars are still forming within protective cocoons. The image is dominated by large bipolar jets of molecular hydrogen, represented in red, which appear horizontally across the upper third and vertically on the right. These jets occur when a star bursts through its dusty envelope, sending out opposing jets into space, akin to a newborn stretching its arms out into the world. In contrast, a star called S1 has created a glowing cavity in the lower half of the image. It is the only star in the picture that is significantly more massive than the Sun.

Webb's image of the Rho Ophiuchi region provides us with a rare glimpse into a brief phase of stellar development. Our own Sun experienced a similar stage long ago, and now we have the technological capability to witness the beginning of another star's story. Some stars in the image exhibit shadows, indicating the presence of protoplanetary disks, which are potential future planetary systems in the making