The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) celebration of images and discoveries continues, this time with a zoom on a star formation region at the center of our galaxy. It reflects mysterious needle-like structures in the interstellar medium of this region, the nature and origin of which we do not understand.
Clouds of gas and dust are more transparent in the infrared region than in the visible region. For this reason, we had to wait for the development of infrared astronomy to make some discoveries. This astronomy sometimes requires liberation from Earth’s atmosphere, especially its parasitic water vapor. That is why telescopes like Spitzer and Hubble were sent into space.
Today, one of the orbiting infrared eyes of the noosphere is the James Webb Space Telescope. He never ceases to amaze us with his images, even if they are often digitally processed photographs to give false colors that reveal details that JWST considers beyond the merely visible.
One of the targets of Hubble’s successor is naturally the center of our galaxy, which we have long known to be obscured by dust clouds. NASA and ESA today show us a James-Webb zoom in on a region about 300 light-years from the center of the Milky Way that contains its supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* (SGR A*). Since the center of the galaxy is seen in Sagittarius, we would not be surprised to learn that the James-Webb image is of a region called Sagittarius C (SGR C).
Proto-star and a cluster of Bok globules
The JWST zoom shows us about 500,000 stars in a volume about 50 light years across. There are new stars forming and we can especially see a group of young proto-stars on the left, one of which is estimated to have about 30 solar masses and on the right a region so cold and dense that it looks like a dark Appears as a nebula. , reminiscent of the famous images of Bok globules, first observed by the Dutch-American astronomer Bart Bok in the 1940s, i.e. a dark cloud of dust and gas rising from the interstellar medium in which stars may begin to be born.
In fact, if you look closely, you can see the presence of small dark clouds on the image, looking like holes in the area of the star. They are also the Bok globules where stars form.
But what is most striking in the JWST image are the blue needle-shaped structures containing ionized hydrogen. They appear chaotically oriented in several directions.
This is the first time that we have seen such structures in the middle of the galaxy and astronomers don’t really know how to explain them…
It is certain that there is another laboratory for understanding the patterns of star birth in the galaxy, based on the Sagittarius C region. Studying it with the JWST could help answer many questions, for example, are more massive stars forming in the galaxy’s center as opposed to the edges of its spiral arms?