(Photo : NASA)
Scientists from the Herschel space observatory have found some of the youngest stars to have ever been observed by man. The insights gained by looking at these "protostars" should help scientists better understand star formation, and consequently, the life cycle of our very own sun.
"Herschel has revealed the largest ensemble of such young stars in a single star-forming region," said lead author on the paper Amelia Stutz. "With these results, we are getting closer to witnessing the moment when a star begins to form."
Stars are formed by the collapse of incredible amounts of cosmic gas and dust, and protostars are stars in their initial stages, when they are still surrounded by these thick clouds of gas and dust.
The surrounding matter makes incredibly young stars hard to detect, as it can even block out visible light. The protostars in question were located by the Herschel scientists through their far-infrared output. These long wavelengths are able to get through the clouds of gas and dust, and provided the researchers with their glimpses into the world of star infancy.
The stars in question were found in the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex.
"Previous studies have missed the densest, youngest and potentially most extreme and cold protostars in Orion," Stutz added. "These sources may be able to help us better understand how the process of star formation proceeds at the very earliest stages, when most of the stellar mass is built up and physical conditions are hardest to observe."
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You can read the full NASA press release here.