A very young star is being born in the dark cloud LDN 43, a massive aggregation of gas, dust, and ices, a bit more than 500 light-years away in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer). Dust and gas float in space, and as gravity pulls the matter together, some clumps grown to form stars
This newborn star is hidden from direct view. We can only see it’s light reflected onto the plumes of the dark cloud. It’s be cataloged as RNO 91. It’s a pre-main sequence star. It has not yet started burning hydrogen in its core, so the energy that causes RNO 91 to shine comes from gravitational contraction. As the star is compressed by its own weight, it will eventually reach a critical mass, its hydrogen will begin to undergo the same fusion process that drives our Sun, and RNO 91 will become an adult star. However, the adolescent star is still bright enough to shine and generate powerful stellar winds, intense X-rays, and radio emission.
RNO 91 is a variable star with about half the mass of the Sun. A dusty, icy disk surrounds it, stretching out to over 1,700 times the distance from Earth to the Sun. It is possible that this disk may host protoplanets and may evolve into a fully-fledged planetary system.
Image Credit: NASA