This image, captured in infrared light by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, reveals for previously invisible areas of star formation in NGC 3324, a nearby, young, star-forming region located in the Carina Nebula.
NGC 3324 is located approximately 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of Carina.
First catalogued by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop in 1826, this stellar nursery is located at the northwest corner of the Carina Nebula, one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky.
“Called the Cosmic Cliffs, Webb’s seemingly three-dimensional picture looks like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening,” Webb astronomers said.
“In reality, it is the edge of the giant, gaseous cavity within NGC 3324, and the tallest ‘peaks’ in this image are about 7 light-years high.”
“The cavernous area has been carved from the nebula by the intense ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds from extremely massive, hot, young stars located in the center of the bubble, above the area shown in this image.”
“The blistering, ultraviolet radiation from the young stars is sculpting the nebula’s wall by slowly eroding it away,” they added.
“Dramatic pillars tower above the glowing wall of gas, resisting this radiation.”
“The ‘steam’ that appears to rise from the celestial ‘mountains’ is actually hot, ionized gas and hot dust streaming away from the nebula due to the relentless radiation.”
NGC 3324 was imaged by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).
With its crisp resolution and unparalleled sensitivity, NIRCam unveils hundreds of previously hidden stars, and even numerous background galaxies.
In MIRI’s view, young stars and their dusty, planet-forming disks shine brightly in the mid-infrared, appearing pink and red.
MIRI reveals structures that are embedded in the dust and uncovers the stellar sources of massive jets and outflows.
With MIRI, the hot dust, hydrocarbons, and other chemical compounds on the surface of the ridges glow, giving the appearance of jagged rocks.
“These observations of NGC 3324 will shed light on the process of star formation,” the researchers said.
“Star birth propagates over time, triggered by the expansion of the eroding cavity.”
“As the bright, ionized rim moves into the nebula, it slowly pushes into the gas and dust.”
“If the rim encounters any unstable material, the increased pressure will trigger the material to collapse and form new stars.”
“Conversely, this type of disturbance may also prevent star formation as the star-making material is eroded away.”
“This is a very delicate balance between sparking star formation and stopping it.”
Source link: https://www.sci.news/astronomy/webb-cosmic-cliffs-10996.html