A group of young stars in the Perseus constellation. Image courtesy of NASA.
Stars form out of molecular clouds when an overdense area of hydrogen begins to collapse under the influence of gravity. As the clump of gas becomes more massive, it begins to draw in gas and dust from the surrounding area. This "prestellar" phase lasts until the object forms a core that is dense and hot enough to fuse hydrogen into helium. It can then be called a protostar. Due to high-velocity streams of gas being ejected from its center, L1448-IRS2E is believed to have passed the prestellar phase; however, it is not emitting enough light to truly be called a protostar.
The object was originally discovered using Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii. The team plans to continue observing with the newly launched Herschel telescope and hopes that its research will shed some light on the mechanics of early stellar evolution.