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Herschel telescope reveals galaxy’s youngest stars for the first time

Washington, Mar 21 (): Images from the Herschel Space Observatory have spotted 15 new protostars, surrounded in an envelope of dust and gas, in the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex near our Milky Way. These are the youngest stars ever before seen and are spotted at the Orion constellation, an area of space where astronomers have previously looked for the birth of stars.

Researcher Amelia Stutz, from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany said with the results, they are getting closer to witnessing the moment when a star begins to form. The study provides many information about the earliest and unspoken phases of star formation.

However, the sensitive infrared camera of new Herschel Space Observatory was able to find even younger and colder stars than other telescopes.

Astronomers have described that the Stars were created from the gravitational collapse of massive clouds of gas and dust. Stars are formed from stray, cool gas as they change into the ball of super-hot plasma. It lasts for only a few hundred thousand years.

The 15 new protostars are mere infants by cosmic standards – some of them in stages of formation that last only 25,000 years. Our own solar system is an estimated 4.6 billion years old.

The images taken by the Herschel telescope show a dazzling mix of colours from the cluster of stars in the Orion cloud. Among the fifteen protostars, eleven of them emitted red colours, when imaged by Herschel’s spectrometer. The red colour means that they have low energy and indicates the stars are still embedded deeply in an envelope of cosmic gases, meaning they are especially young.

Herschel was launched in 2009 by the European Space Agency at a cost of about $1.4 billion. It is the largest infrared telescope ever sent into space.

Observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile were also used for the research. The collaboration of Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany, the Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden, and the European Southern Observatory in Germany also contributed to the findings.

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