The James-Webb Telescope captures a cosmic hourglass


The L1527 protostar.

Taken by the James Webb Space Telescope of the American, European and Canadian space agencies, this image of a celestial hourglass actually betrays the formation of a star. Hidden in the neck of the hourglass, it is not visible on the photograph, which shows above all the cavities created in the surrounding matter by the materials ejected by the proto-star. Although it causes chaos in the region, L1527, located in the constellation of Taurus, is only a baby of about 100,000 years old, a very young age by astronomical standards. Researchers consider it to be at the earliest stage of star formation and not to have started thermonuclear fusion. The dark band visible in the center of the hourglass constitutes the “accretion disc”, a disc of gas and dust which supplies the protostar with matter. As L1527 gains mass and compresses, its core temperature will increase until fusion occurs. Only then will a star be born.

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