NASA’s Webb uncovers star formation in cluster’s ‘dusty ribbons’ – DNyuz

NASA’s Webb uncovers star formation in cluster’s ‘dusty ribbons’

New findings from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope are shedding light on star formation in a dynamic cluster that lies within a nebula 200,000 light years away.

NGC 346, located in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), is one of the most dynamic star-forming regions in nearby galaxies. The SMC, a dwarf galaxie close to the Milky Way that has lower metal concentrations, is

Since dust grains in space are composed mostly of metals – elements heavier than hydrogen or helium – scientists expected there would be low amounts of dust, and that it would be hard to detect.

However, the agency said new data from Webb has revealed the opposite.

Astronomers examined the region because the conditions and amount of metals within the SMC resemble those of galaxies billions of years ago when star formation was peaking during the “cosmic noon” era.

Researchers can determine if star formation is any different than that in the Milky Way by observing the protostars still in formation.

“We’re seeing the building blocks, not only of stars, but also potentially of planets,” Guido De Marchi of the European Space Agency, a co-investigator on the research team, said in a statement. “And since the Small Magellanic Cloud has a similar environment to galaxies during cosmic noon, it’s possible that rocky planets could have formed earlier in the universe than we might have thought.”

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