Researchers in Dublin documented a newborn star with an infrared camera using the James Webb Space Telescope. This showed how hot molecular material flows out of the new star in opposite directions in a formation that resembles Darth Maul’s lightsaber.
The team published an article in Nature describe their results last week and today Approved an ultra-high-resolution image of the rays emitted by the star called Herbig-Haro 211. The star in the constellation Perseus is about 1,000 light-years from Earth and is only a few thousand years old, meaning it is just a baby on galactic timescales. One day, Herbig-Haro 211, or HH 211 for short, will likely grow into a star very similar to our star, but it currently has a mass about 8% of the mass of our solar system’s star.
Webb was able to capture the infrared light emitted by these bipolar light beams, a mixture of molecules such as hydrogen, carbon monoxide and silicon monoxide. In this star system, scientists have observed giant bow shocks that ripple toward and away from us in waves, as well as an inner jet that appears to “wobble” symmetrically on either side of the star. According to NASA, “this suggests that the protostar may actually be an unresolved binary star,” meaning there could actually be two stars beneath this mysterious molecular cloud. On the other hand, if it is a protostar, that means it is still gathering enough material to form itself.
“The research shows that the very youngest stars appear to be emitting beams of almost pure molecules, contrary to what astronomers previously thought, and moving very slowly,” Tom Ray, a researcher on the Dublin team, said in a opinion via HH211. “How such rays are created without the addition of atoms and ions is currently a mystery.”