The James Webb Space Telescope observed the Orion 294-606 proto-planetary system

Scientists around the world are giving to James Webb space telescope many objectives to be observed so as to extrapolate new information, data and images to be used for studies. After all, the potential of this new scientific instrument is there for all to see and even the less experienced have understood that it is a new reference point for observations of the Universe (in the infrared).

jwst orion

As we wrote recently, the JWST can work “together” to other telescopes (on Earth or in Space) as in the case of Chandra and Hubble which can detect X-rays the first or part of infrared, visible and UV the second. This does not exclude the possibility of using the new space telescope “alone” since it is still able to provide an enormous amount of data thanks to its tools (even if there are currently no updates on the health of MIRI, which cannot use one of its observing methods).

Orion 294-606 observed by the James Webb Space Telescope

As reported by Mark McCaughrean (Senior Advisor for Science & Exploration of ESA) in a long discussion on Twitterthe JWST has been committed, among other objectives, to observing the Orion 294-606 proto-planetary system (distant from Theta 1 Orionis C, one of the brightest stars in the Orion Nebula). It is not one “new discovery” as it had already been observed by Hubble in the past but Webb and its ability to capture infrared could help to know its secrets.


The proplyds seen by the Hubble Space Telescope in the Orion Nebula (source)

This system sees a star in the center, approximately one million years old, surrounded by a disk of dust and gas. The latter will lead, over millions of years, to the creation of exoplanets and therefore a new solar system (the distance from Earth is 1500 light years and it is therefore too early to see the first planets).

With the NIRCam tool of the James Webb space telescope and in particular with the 1.87 µm narrow band filter (F187N) it is possible to capture the hydrogen emission peak to have a more precise characterization of the structure. According to estimates, the disk of dust and gas has a diameter of approx 300 AU.


McCaughrean pointed out how JWST it will hardly find new proto-planetary disks in this area of ​​the sky since it has been studied in depth by Hubble. However, this does not mean that it is a “useless work” (obviously). The scientist remarked how he wants to analyze the same goals with both JWST that with HST so as to fully understand its properties. By exploiting, for example, the near infrared, the diameter of the dust disc can vary as these wavelengths are able to “to pass” through the powders.

The combined data of the James Webb space telescope and Hubble will be able to give information on the size of the grains, on how far the formation of a planet is in the outer areas of the disk and more generally on its structure. For instance McCaughrean indicates that if the outer edges were “cut clean” both in the visible and in the infrared could mean that the interaction with the nebula is present and fundamental (as shown by the proplydsplanetary disks elongated due to the ionized wind of the nearby stars).

Stars that “blow away” dust from a proto-planetary disk of another star could cause no planets to form. The study of proplyds through JWST and with different filters they could help create new models that could also explain the formation of the Solar System.

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