A new study using the James Webb Space Telescope has revealed fascinating information about a protostar that is on the brink of becoming a full-fledged celestial body. The research was conducted by scientists from the Japanese Research Institute RIKEN, who utilized the telescope’s full range of infrared instruments to analyze the protostar’s radiation spectrum and the molecules present in its surrounding gas and dust cloud.
Organic Molecules and Ice Crystals
The team discovered a variety of organic molecules in the cloud surrounding the protostar, including methane, ammonia, methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid, ethanol, and acetaldehyde. While these substances have previously been found in gas-dust clouds, the researchers believe that they could be synthesized on ice crystals and potentially even form more complex organic structures, such as nitrogenous bases that make up DNA.
In addition to organic molecules, the team also found water ice crystals, carbon dioxide, and silicate formations in the cloud, providing insight into the conditions and materials that contribute to the formation of new stars.
Jets Shooting Heavy Elements
Another exciting discovery from the study was the observation of jets shooting out from the protostar into space. These jets, caused by the acceleration of matter as it falls towards the protostar, were found to contain elements such as hydrogen, iron, nickel, neon, argon, and sulfur. The high speeds at which the jets are traveling, around 200 km/s, mean that they are capable of enriching the surrounding space with the heavy elements necessary for the formation of planets.
Overall, the study provides valuable insights into the early stages of star formation and the molecular and elemental components that contribute to this process. The James Webb Space Telescope’s capabilities in analyzing the infrared spectrum have allowed scientists to gain a better understanding of the universe and the processes that shape it.