Space Telescope Science
Billions of years ago, the young universe blazed with the brilliant light of myriad stars bursting to life. The young stars arising from this stellar "baby boom" are too far away and too faint for even the most powerful telescopes to study in detail.
Astronomers will use the upcoming NASA James Webb Space Telescope to study star birth in the nearby Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy, which contains some of the same conditions that existed in galaxies during the universe’s peak star-formation epoch. Webb’s sharp infrared vision will help researchers take a census of medium-mass stars like our Sun still wrapped in their dense, dusty cocoons in the giant stellar nursery NGC 346, located about 200,000 light-years away. This census could help astronomers develop a clearer picture of how the galaxies of long ago churned out stars so rapidly.