CAPE CANAVERAL, FL — (FloridaToday.news) — The Webb Space Telescope is celebrating the year of space imagery with one of its best photographs: a dramatic close-up of dozens of stars as they were born.
On Wednesday, NASA released the latest image showing 50 young stars in a cloud complex 390 light-years away. The region is relatively calm, but full of luminous gases, jets of hydrogen, and even cocoons of dust with the thin rudiments of even more stars.
All young stars appear to be no larger than our Sun. Scientists say this breathtaking image provides the best insight into this short phase of the star’s life.
“Our own Sun has long gone through a similar phase, and now we have the technology to see the beginning of another star’s history,” Klaus Pontoppidan, who served as the project’s scientist, said in a statement.
This cloud complex, known as Rho Ophiuchus, is the closest star-forming region to Earth. NASA noted that without stars in the foreground of the photo, details stand out even more. According to NASA, some of the stars have shadows indicating possible planets in the making.
Webb, the largest and most powerful astronomical observatory ever launched into space, took pictures of the cosmic beauty last year. The first images of the $10 billion infrared telescope were released last July, six months after it launched from French Guiana.
It is considered the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been orbiting the Earth for 33 years. A collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency, Webb scans the universe from a more distant location, 1.6 million kilometers away.
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