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A star is born.

For the first time ever, scientists have snapped pictures of a baby star, or protostar, developing in our Milky Way galaxy. These pictures confirm the scientists' theories of how a star is born and matures.

Scientists had believed that new stars form inside clouds of gas and dust, explains Thomas Kuiper, an astrophysicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Gravity, the force that attracts objects to one another, pulls some of the gas and dust particles together into a compact ball, the protostar.

Until now, scientists had found the clouds around the star so thick that they couldn't see inside. But two groups of scientists snapped pictures of this new star using radio telescopes. These telescopes gather and focus radio waves, a type of energy emitted from some objects in space, using large antennae.

As the scientists had predicted, the images show gas and dust collapsing into this protostar, which is now 150,000 years old. (That's young for a star, which can "live" for billions of years.)

"Now we have some real evidence to confirm our theory of star creation," Kuiper says.

Scientists will continue to watch the new star as it matures and becomes hotter and more compact. Kuiper predicts that the rest of the gas cloud win either collapse into the star or blow away. Then, in a few million years, hydrogen atoms inside this star will start to fuse (combine) and give off light energy. When that happens, the star will begin to glow.
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Title Annotation:scientists have photographed a protostar as it develops into a star in the Milky Way galaxy
Author:Ehrenpreis, Yael
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 12, 1996
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