Ahead of its time
Newborn stars are formed when clouds of gas and dust collapse under their own gravity. But another force may also be at work. NASA, which calls this image “analogous to baby’s first ultrasound,” reveals an embryonic star is glowing, and it is not supposed to do so at this stage of development. Located 500 light-years from Earth, this region is known as R Corona Australis. As NASA writes, “The observation, made primarily with the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton observatory, suggests that some unrealized, energetic process — likely related to magnetic fields — is superheating the surface of the cloud core, nudging the cloud ever closer to becoming a star.” The protostars are reddish, while the young stars are white. With each technological advance from NASA, we are learning more and more about the birth of stars — and ultimately, about our universe.