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A star in the earliest phase of its life, condensing out of a cloud of gas and dust, before the onset of nuclear burning. Its mass grows over about 100 000 years as material falls on to it from the surrounding cloud. A protostar is not visible at optical wavelengths because the infalling material obscures it, but it is bright at infrared wavelengths.

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography — Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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