A Young Star

HD 97300A newly formed star lights up the surrounding gas and dust clouds like a streetlight in enveloping fog, creating reflection nebula IC 2631. The glowing region is the reflection nebula known as IC 2631. These nebulae are clouds of cosmic dust that reflect light from a nearby star into space. IC 2631 is the brightest nebula in the Chamaeleon Complex, a large region of such clouds with numerous newborn and still-forming protostars. The complex is around 500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Chameleon. IC 2631 is illuminated by one of the youngest, most massive, and brightest stars in its region. This neighborhood is full of star-making material which form dark nebulae such as the dark areas above and below IC 2631 in this picture. Dark nebulae are so densely filled with gas and dust that they block background starlight.

HD 97300 a T Tauri star, the youngest visible stage for relatively small stars.They have not yet started to fuse hydrogen into helium in their cores like normal main sequence stars but are just starting to glow by generating heat from gravitational contraction. As these stars mature, they will lose mass and shrink, but during their T Tauri phase, these stars have not yet contracted to the more modest size that they will maintain for billions of years as main sequence stars. Because these young stars already have surface temperatures similar to their main sequence phase and because T Tauri-phase objects are essentially jumbo versions of their later selves, they appear brighter in their oversized youth than they will as mature main sequence stars.

Image Credit: ESO

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