Last Updated: Feb 02, 2023

Astronomers have shown that stars start as a deep-space dish made up of small icy elements. Then they transform into massive shining bodies of hot gases and planets capable of supporting life. NASA was able to capture the best view possible of these ingredients for the first-ever time. NASA officials have disclosed that an international team of astronomers used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in order to get a detailed record of the depths and coldest ice formations measured to date in molecular clouds. It is believed to be the largest-ever comprehensive survey of icy elements available to form future stars and planets. According to the report, the census was taken in the Chamaeleon I Molecular Cloud, located around 500 light-years from Earth. It is currently generating tons of stars. This is a small section of the 65-light year-wide Chamaeleon Cloud Complex that was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2022.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope image shows one of three sections that include a 65-light-year-wide star-developing area known as the Chamaeleon Cloud Complex. The section in this Hubble composite image, known as Chamaeleon Cloud I has shown dusty and dark clouds where stars are developing, shinning reflection nebulae blooming by the light obtained from bright-blue young stars, and radiant knots that are known as Herbig-Haro objects. With the help of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have been able to have a more profound look at the frozen types of multiple molecules such as ammonia, carbonyl sulfide, methane, and methanol. Those molecules include some essential fragments as well such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. These elements are required to develop planets and stars. Along with these elements, phosphorus as well is crucial for living organisms. An Astronomer named Melissa McClure has said that the outcomes of the census help show a complete picture of the dark chemistry stage of ice development on space dust grains. She has said that this stage is what results in the centimeter-sized pebbles that ultimately turn into planets.

Melissa McClure claims that the annotations provide new insight into the pathways that lead to the formation of the simple and complex molecules necessary for life’s stepping stones. Astronomers discovered more complex molecules in molecular clouds for the first time. This finding suggests that many stars and planets found in the particular cloud studied may have some inherited, progressive molecules. It also indicates that this is a common incidence after stars are created beyond Earth’s solar system. Nature Astronomy published the results of the census. These findings were part of the James Webb Space Telescope Ice Age project, according to experts. The Ice Age project at the James Webb Space Telescope aims to learn more about molecular elements that start as ice formations, and eventually become life. McClure stated that McClure’s recent image is one of several spectral portraits to be taken to observe the evolution of ices, from their initial synthesis to the areas of protoplanetary plates that are developing.