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James Webb telescope finds star formation in a cluster 200,000 light years away

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Washington: NASA's James Webb telescope has discovered a star formation in the dusty ribbons of clusters within a nebula 200,000 light years away.

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) star-forming region NGC 346 is considered to be one of the most dynamic ones in nearby galaxies. It is a dwarf galaxy close to the Milky Way and has lower metal concentrations. The dust grains are largely made up of metals that are heavier than hydrogen and helium.

Scientists had earlier predicted that there will be little dust in the galaxy and it will be challenging to detect. However, the images composed of James Webb's data have revealed the opposite. Scientists can assess whether the star formation process in the SMC varies from what is observed in the Milky Way by observing the protostars. They have masses greater than five to eight times that of the Sun.

The ribbons in the images are stars collecting gas and dust from surrounding molecular clouds as they take form. We're seeing the building blocks, not only of stars but also potentially of planets," said Guido De Marchi of the European Space Agency. "Since the Small Magellanic Cloud has a similar environment to galaxies during cosmic noon, it's possible that rocky planets could have formed earlier in the universe than we might have thought," he added.

NASA released stunning images of the star formation and wrote: "Stars across the spectrum! These two views of NGC 346 show a dynamic, massive star-forming region in the Small Magellanic Cloud, which is a satellite galaxy to our own Milky Way. What's going on in NGC 346?"

Margaret Meixner, an astronomer at the Universities Space Research Association and principal investigator of the research team, wrote in the press release that a galaxy during cosmic noon wouldn't have one NGC 346 like the Small Magellanic Cloud does. "It would have thousands of star-forming regions like this one."

"Even if NGC 346 is now the one and only massive cluster furiously forming stars in its galaxy, it offers us a great opportunity to probe conditions that were in place at cosmic noon," he added.

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TAGS:NASAJames Webb telescopestar formationNGC 346
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