The Youngest Stars Ever
Astronomers have discovered some of the youngest stars ever seen! The Herschel Space Observatory has looked at a vast stellar nursery located in the constellation Orion, considered the biggest site of star formation near our solar system. Dense envelopes of gas and dust surround fledgling stars (known as protostars) making their detection difficult until now. Hershel was able to spy these protostars by detecting far-infrared, or long-wavelength, light, which shines through those dense gas clouds. A portion of those observations is shown here in side-by-side images of the same region where new protostars were found. Of the 15 detected, four extremely young protostars are indicated here by small circles. The left-hand composite image, which includes the observations from Herschel in far-infrared light, shows the four young stars clearly. On the right is the same region using mid-infrared observations. Note that the same protostars in this image are undetectable.
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NASA/ESA/ESO/JPL-Caltech/Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy