Courtesy: A Marston (ESTEC/ESA) et al., JPL, Caltech, NASA
By James Dacey
Our telescopes have delivered so many incredible snapshots of the universe that there is a danger of us becoming a bit blasé about new images.
Not so with this one. This image of a future star as it is been born out of a cloud of gas and dust reminds us of just how beautiful the universe can be.
With the rather less inspiring name of L1448-IRS2E, it is located around 800 light-years away in the Perseus star-forming region, and was captured by the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
It could well be the youngest known star, though it is still too dim to be classified as a true protostar by astronomers.
The discovery and characteristics of L1448-IRS2E are described in a recent paper in the Astrophysical Journal.