The first anniversary image of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope shows star formation in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex, the closest star-forming region to Earth. The frantic close-up shows jets emerging from newborn stars and colliding with interstellar plasma and molecular hydrogen.

Some stars cast the distinctive shadow of a circumstellar disc, forming future planetary systems. In its first year of science operations, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope effectively exposed the universe, discovering a small star-forming area in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex.

The image honours the telescope’s successful first year, displaying the universe like never before. A new Webb image catches 390 light-years of star-forming region, offering a precise close-up without foreground stars and displaying the nearest star-forming zone.

Webb’s photograph reveals a region with 50 young stars, all of which are the same mass as the Sun or less. Where heavy dust cocoons protostars, the darkest spots are the densest. The image is dominated by massive bipolar jets of molecular hydrogen, seen in red, produced as a star breaks through its cosmic dust envelope. Star S1 has carved out a luminous cave of dust in the lower part of the image, making it the only star much more massive than the Sun.

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