Pan of star cluster IC 348

This image from the NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument on the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope shows the central portion of the star cluster IC 348. Astronomers combed the cluster in search of tiny, free-floating brown dwarfs: objects too small to be stars but larger than most planets. They found three brown dwarfs that are less than eight times the mass of Jupiter. The smallest weighs just three to four times as much as Jupiter, challenging theories for star formation.

The wispy curtains filling the image are interstellar material reflecting the light from the cluster’s stars — what is known as a reflection nebula. The material also includes carbon-containing molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. The bright star closest to the centre of the frame is actually a pair of type B stars in a binary system, the most massive stars in the cluster. Winds from these stars may help sculpt the large loop seen on the right side of the field of view.


NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and K. Luhman (Penn State University) and C. Alves de Oliveira (European Space Agency), N. Bartmann (ESA/Webb)
Music: Noizefield - Expect the Unexpected

About the Video

Release date:13 December 2023, 16:00
Related releases:weic2331
Duration:30 s
Frame rate:25 fps

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