A bright newborn star only about 500 light-years away has put on a spectacular show. The star, called HD 97300, is located in the southern constellation of Chamaeleon Complex. The bright light from the young star is reflecting off the dust clouds that surround it, forming a reflection nebula known as IC 2631. The ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has captured an image of the reflection nebula, which appears as the swirling blue in the image.
The center of attraction is the nebula, not the newborn star
The newborn star is illuminating its neighboring nebula and creating an unforgettable light display. Scientists said HD 97300 was one of the youngest stars in the region, and it is not alone. A look at dark nebulae in the image suggests that the region is jam-packed with star-making gas and dust clouds. Though the young star HD 97300 provides the light, the center of attraction is the neighboring nebula.
The dark nebulae are so dense with dust and gas that starlight cannot penetrate through their masses. What makes the nebula IC 2631 so bright? Well, it is a reflection nebula which reflects the light of the nearby newborn star HD 97300, creating the spectacular show we see. Since HD 97300 is a T Tauri type star, it is currently the jumbo version of itself.
What are T Tauri stars?
T Tauri stars are are the youngest stellar bodies that can be seen in visible wavelengths. They lose mass and shrink as they mature and reach adulthood. And then they retain that smaller size and reduced brightness for millions of years. Since the area around HD 97300 is full of star-forming materials, there would be another blue light show when a new star is formed. But the process of new star formation may take hundreds or thousands of years.
These bodies haven’t yet started fusing hydrogen into helium. They produce energy when gas falls into the collapsing stellar body, leading to contraction of their masses. During this process, the light produced by the newborn star is scattered by surrounding gas, which is seen from Earth as a reflection nebula.