Open our son’s family album. This is what the James Webb Space Telescope offers us today. To take a look at our star’s childhood. When she was no more than a few thousand years old.
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Imagine our Sun in its early childhood. Even though it was only a few tens of thousands of years old. Then its mass was 10% less than today’s mass. Difficult to get an idea? Well, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can help you with that. They recently imaged the environment of a very young star that is consuming gas and dust. And spewing matter into space in the form of supersonic jets. Which astronomers call Herbig-Haro (HH) object. More precisely, HH 211 is located in the Perseus constellation, about 1,000 light years from our Earth.
Infrared to reveal the childhood of our Sun
What the sharp infrared eye of the James-Webb Space Telescope – capable of penetrating dust – shows us is more precisely the result of the interaction of these jets of matter with interstellar matter. Molecular hydrogen, carbon monoxide and silicon monoxide. Like lots of shiny and colorful swirls.
HH 211 had already been observed by ground-based telescopes. But the resolution of the JWST images is 5 to 10 times better than previous ones.
It is enough to learn a little more about these jets of matter. They appear slower than more evolved protostars which nevertheless exhibit similar types of flows.
A spectacular and instructive image presented by the James Webb Space Telescope
The jets of matter from HH 211 are also rich in molecules. And astronomers have an explanation for it. The flow velocities they measured for the internal structures of these jets still reached between 80 and 100 km/s. As a reminder, sound travels in our air at about 0.35 km/s. So the HH 211 jets are actually supersonic. However, the shock waves generated by the protostar are not energetic enough to disintegrate the molecules present in the jet into atoms.