ColombiaOne.comScienceColombian Astronomers Team Up with James Webb Telescope in Stellar Discovery

Colombian Astronomers Team Up with James Webb Telescope in Stellar Discovery


James Webb telescope
James Webb telescope -credit: NASAWebb

A team of astronomers from the University of Antioquia in Colombia, in collaboration with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) team, is studying the Lobster Nebula, a region of stellar formation 6,000 light-years away from Earth. The project, led by María Claudia Ramírez-Tannus of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, includes three members from the Colombian university’s Group of Physics and Computational Astrophysics.

Colombian Astronomers Exploring Stellar Formation in the Lobster Nebula

The collaboration focuses on a specific area within the nebula, known as XUE: Molecular Inventory in the Inner Region of an Extremely Irradiated Protoplanetary Disk. This region is significant for its production of massive, luminous stars. The team, comprising Professor Pablo Cuartas Restrepo, Professor Germán Chaparro, and doctoral student Sebastián Hernández, is examining the first spectra of planetary formation in this area.

James Webb Space Telescope’s Crucial Role

The JWST has been instrumental in this research, capturing light spectra from the nebula and identifying 20 relatively small and young stars. The researchers are particularly interested in XUE-1, a system consisting of a star and a disk. Their analysis, using spectra and observations, has led to the development of models to understand the dynamics of this distant part of the universe. Published on November 30, 2023, in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, their findings indicate the presence of water, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, acetylene, and silicate dust in XUE-1. These elements suggest the potential for rocky planets, similar to Earth, to form in this region over millions of years.

The study continues to delve into these discoveries, aiming to shed light on planet formation processes, particularly in environments typically unsuitable for water molecules, which are crucial for life. This research is pivotal in addressing fundamental questions about our existence and the uniqueness of life in the universe.

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