Stars caught at moment of birth in stunning new Milky Way images
The picture contains several mysterious structures
(Web Desk) - The Milky Way galaxy is a hive of activity — but seeing all the hustle and bustle that takes place in our corner of the cosmos is harder than you might think.
Part of the reason why is that some space phenomena don't emit light that we can see with conventional telescopes, but thanks to the new James Webb Space Telescope, the veil is slowly being lifted.
And what a vista it reveals. In brand new images made from the telescope's observations of the Milky Way's center, never-before seen features are shown in unprecedented detail — including several stars in the process of being born.
Incredibly, this star-forming region lies a mere 300 light-years from the galaxy's central supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A.
The reason why the Webb Telescope can show us these otherwise hidden features is that it images the universe in infrared and near-infrared — light wavelengths that we can’t see.
But with it, astronomers pinpointed bright clusters of infant stars, including one very big baby star that’s already 30 times larger than the Sun.
The blue in the image is actually a vast sea of ionized hydrogen, which is typically associated with emissions from young stars. But bafflingly, the amount of hydrogen seen in this image is so great that astronomers at the European Space Agency said in a statement they will need to do further research to work out where it came from.
"Around 25,000 light-years from Earth, the galactic centre is close enough to study individual stars with the Webb telescope, allowing astronomers to gather unprecedented information on how stars form, and how this process may depend on the cosmic environment, especially compared to other regions of the galaxy," ESA said in a statement.