Webb Uncovers Star Formation in Cluster’s Dusty Ribbons

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Webb Uncovers Star Formation in Cluster’s Dusty Ribbons

Post by bystander » Thu Jan 12, 2023 3:16 pm

Webb Uncovers Star Formation in Cluster’s Dusty Ribbons
NASA GSFC | STScI Webb | ESA Webb | 2023 Jan 11
STScI-01GNYMEG4YM0KSH1X63G894T6H[1].png
NGC 346, shown here in this image from NASA’s James Webb
Space Telescope Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is a dynamic
star cluster that lies within a nebula 200,000 light years away.
In this image blue was assigned to the wavelength of 2.0 μm
(F200W), green to 2.77 μm (F277W), orange to 3.35 μm (F335M),
and red to 4.44 μm (F444W).

Science Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, O. Jones (UK ATC),
G. De Marchi (ESTEC), and M. Meixner (USRA).
Image processing: A. Pagan (STScI), N. Habel (USRA),
L. Lenkic (USRA) and L. Chu (NASA/Ames)

NGC 346, one of the most dynamic star-forming regions in nearby galaxies, is full of mystery. Now, though, it is less mysterious thanks to new findings from the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.

NCG 346 is located in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a dwarf galaxy close to our Milky Way. The SMC contains lower concentrations of elements heavier than hydrogen or helium, which astronomers call metals, than seen in the Milky Way. Since dust grains in space are composed mostly of metals, scientists expected that there would only be small amounts of dust, and that it would be hard to detect. But new data from Webb reveals just the opposite.

Astronomers probed this region because the conditions and amount of metals within the SMC resemble those seen in galaxies billions of years ago, during an era in the Universe's history known as 'cosmic noon,' when star formation was at its peak. Some 2 to 3 billion years after the Big Bang, galaxies were forming stars at a furious rate. The fireworks of star formation happening then still shape the galaxies we see around us today. ...

By observing protostars still in the process of forming, researchers can learn if the star formation process in the SMC is different from what we observe in our own Milky Way. Previous infrared studies of NGC 346 have focused on protostars heavier than about 5 to 8 times the mass of our Sun. ...

By observing protostars still in the process of forming, researchers can learn if the star formation process in the SMC is different from what we observe in our own Milky Way. Previous infrared studies of NGC 346 have focused on protostars heavier than about 5 to 8 times the mass of our Sun. ...

The team also has spectroscopic observations from Webb’s NIRSpec instrument that they are continuing to analyze. These data are expected to provide new insights into the material accreting onto individual protostars, as well as the environment immediately surrounding the protostar. ...
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