The image of the Serpent Nebula you see above was taken by… NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), not only looks charming, but also embodies an unprecedented phenomenon. The parallel, extended “protostellar streams” visible at upper left support an older theory. As expected, the jets shoot out in alignment from swirling disks of surrounding material, showing evidence that the forming star clusters are rotating in the same direction.

NASA He says The bright, lumpy lines in the upper left region of the image, which look a bit like JJ Abrams’ lens flare, represent shock waves from outward-shooting jets that appear when the interstellar gas cloud collapses inward. As the forming stars condense and spin more rapidly, some of the material is released perpendicular to the disk.

“Astronomers have long assumed that when clouds collapse to form stars, the stars will tend to rotate in the same direction,” Klaus Pontoppidan of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote in a blog post. “However, this has never been seen directly before. These parallel, elongated structures are a historical record of the fundamental way stars are born.”

Orthogonal jets (seen as thin rays of light, similar to a lens flare) radiate from a red star cluster.Orthogonal jets (seen as thin rays of light, similar to a lens flare) radiate from a red star cluster.

The aligned jets (which look a bit like JJ Abrams’ lens flare) indicate that the forming stars are rotating in the same direction.

The Serpent Nebula is only one or two million years old, and is located about 1,300 light-years from Earth. NASA says the dense cluster of protostars in the center of the image includes stars younger than 100,000 years old. The Serpent is a reflection nebula, meaning that the cloud of gas and dust shines by reflecting light from stars located inside or nearby.

JWST’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) captured the image, covering about 16 trillion miles by 11 trillion miles. The black rectangles you see at the bottom left and top left of the full image represent missing data. NASA says its next step is to use the telescope’s near-infrared spectrometer (NIRSpec) to study the chemical breakdown of the Serpent Nebula.

You can watch NASA’s educational video below to get a closer look at specific details from the gorgeous image.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *