May the stars be with you!
The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, has made over 1.2 million observations and sends breathtaking images back to Earth on a daily basis. But never before has it photographed a star so strong with the “force.”
In the words of a European Space Agency (ESA) press release, “the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has imaged a cosmic double-bladed lightsabre. In the centre of the image, partially obscured by a dark Jedi-like cloak of dust, an adolescent star shoots twin jets out into space, demonstrating the fearsome forces of the Universe.”
The “lightsaber” can be found among a turbulent patch of space about 1250 light years away from the Constellation Orion, in our own Galaxy, the Milky Way.
“Bearing a striking resemblance to Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsabre in Star Wars Episode One, the spectacular twin jets of material slicing across this incredible image are spewing out from a newly formed star that is obscured from view, cloaked by swirling dust and gas,” describes the press release.
Hubble uses infrared light in order to see newly-forming stars and capture clear pictures through clouds of dust.
Stars forming inside giant gaseous clouds are known as protostars. Some of the material around them forms an encircling, rotating, flattened disc where a potential planetary system could form. Jets of gas streaming away from the disk create supersonic shock fronts and heat the surrounding gas to thousands of degrees. These jets also create shock waves for which Herbig-Haro (HH) objects are known. HH 24 is shown in this photo.
Herbig-Haro objects are named after American astronomers George Herbig and Mexican astronomer Guillermo Haro, who discovered the first three objects of this type in 1946-1947. They have temperatures of about 17540 degrees Fahrenheit (9727 degrees Celsius) and are extremely dense, containing the mass of up to twenty Earths.