Blue light from a newborn star lights up the reflection nebula IC 2631. This nebula is part of the Chamaeleon star-forming region, which Webb will study to learn more about the formation of water and other cosmic ices. CREDIT: European Southern Observatory (ESO)
The team, led by McClure and co-principal investigators Adwin Boogert (University of Hawaii) and Harold Linnartz (Universiteit Leiden), plans to target the Chamaeleon Complex, a star-forming region visible in the southern sky. It’s located about 500 light-years from Earth and contains several hundred protostars, the oldest of which are about 1 million years old. “This region has a bit of everything we’re looking for,” said Pontoppidan.
This simulated spectrum from the Webb telescope illustrates the kinds of molecules that may be detected in star-forming regions like the Eagle Nebula (background). Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team, and M. McClure (Universiteit van Amsterdam) and A. Boogert (University of Hawaii)