ESA Hubble Photo Release | 2015 Dec 17
Hubble Sees the Force Awakening in a Newborn Star
NASA | STScI | HubbleSite | 2015 Dec 17
Herbig-Haro Jet HH 24
Hubble Heritage | 2015 Dec 17
[img3="Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)/Hubble-Europe (ESA) Collaboration, D. Padgett (GSFC), T. Megeath (University of Toledo), and B. Reipurth (University of Hawaii) "]http://heritage.stsci.edu/2015/42/images/imageaa.jpg[/img3][hr][/hr]Just in time for the release of the movie "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens," NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has photographed what looks like a cosmic, double-bladed lightsaber.
In the center of the image, partially obscured by a dark, Jedi-like cloak of dust, a newborn star shoots twin jets out into space as a sort of birth announcement to the universe.
"Science fiction has been an inspiration to generations of scientists and engineers, and the film series Star Wars is no exception," said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. “There is no stronger case for the motivational power of real science than the discoveries that come from the Hubble Space Telescope as it unravels the mysteries of the universe."
This celestial lightsaber does not lie in a galaxy far, far away, but rather inside our home galaxy, the Milky Way. It's inside a turbulent birthing ground for new stars known as the Orion B molecular cloud complex, located 1,350 light-years away.
When stars form within giant clouds of cool molecular hydrogen, some of the surrounding material collapses under gravity to form a rotating, flattened disk encircling the newborn star.
Though planets will later congeal in the disk, at this early stage the protostar is feeding on the disk with a Jabba-like appetite. Gas from the disk rains down onto the protostar and engorges it. Superheated material spills away and is shot outward from the star in opposite directions along an uncluttered escape route — the star's rotation axis.
Shock fronts develop along the jets and heat the surrounding gas to thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. The jets collide with the surrounding gas and dust and clear vast spaces, like a stream of water plowing into a hill of sand. The shock fronts form tangled, knotted clumps of nebulosity and are collectively known as Herbig-Haro (HH) objects. The prominent HH object shown in this image is HH 24. ...