The latest image taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope shows, in unprecedented detail, part of our galaxy’s dense center, a star-forming region called Sagittarius C (Sgr C).
Infrared images of this area have never been captured with such high resolution and detail before. Webb also revealed phenomena that astronomers studying star formation are seeing for the first time and are still searching for an explanation.
Among the nearly 500,000 stars in the image is a group of protostars, that is, stars still forming, that glow like flames in the middle of the dark infrared cloud.
At the center of this young cluster is a previously known massive protostar with a mass more than 30 times the mass of our Sun. The cloud from which the protostars emerge is so dense that light from the stars behind it does not reach the web, making it appear less crowded, when in fact it is one of the densest areas in the image. Smaller, dark red clouds are scattered throughout the image, looking like holes in the star’s field. This is where the stars of the future are formed.
The Webb NIRCam (near infrared camera) instrument also recorded the emission of ionized hydrogen on the underside of the dark cloud. This is usually caused by large, young stars, but the enormous extent of the region shown by Webb is a surprise that requires further investigation, said lead researcher Samuel Crowe, a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Another feature of the region that Crowe plans to study further are the needle-like structures in the ionized hydrogen that are arranged in multiple directions. Readable On the NASA website.