Hubble Captures a Spectacular Photo of a ‘Turbulent Stellar Nursery’

Hubble Photo

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new celestial image that depicts two objects, described as “glowing clumps,” that are found around some newborn stars.

The photo depicts the Herbig-Haro objects HH 1 and HH 2, both of which are in the constellation Orion and lie around 1,250 light-years from Earth. HH1 is the object on the upper right of the photo and is described by NASA as a “luminous cloud” around a bright star. HH2 is the cloud in the bottom left of the image.

Herbig-Haro objects are described as glowing clumps found around some newborn stars that are formed when jets of gas that are thrown outwards from the young stars collides with surrounding gas and dust at high speeds. NASA says that in 2002, Hubble was able to see that parts of HH 1 are moving at more than 248 miles (400 kilometers) per second.

“While both Herbig-Haro objects are visible, the young star system responsible for their creation is lurking out of sight, swaddled in the thick clouds of dust at the center of this image,” NASA explains. “However, an outflow of gas from one of these stars is streaming out from the central dark cloud and is visible as a bright jet. Astronomers once thought the bright star between that jet and the HH 1 cloud was the source of these jets, but it is an unrelated double star that formed nearby.”

The photo was taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 using 11 different filters at various wavelengths including infrared, visible, and ultraviolet. While the final photo combines all this visual data, astronomers use different sensitivities to look for specifics in regions that only emit light at certain wavelengths.

“In the case of HH 1 and 2, two groups of astronomers requested Hubble observations for two different studies. The first delved into the structure and motion of the Herbig-Haro objects visible in this image, giving astronomers a better understanding of the physical processes occurring when outflows from young stars collide with surrounding gas and dust,” NASA says.

“The second study investigated the outflows themselves to lay the groundwork for future observations with the James Webb Space Telescope. Webb, with its ability to peer past the clouds of dust enveloping young stars, will revolutionize the study of outflows from young stars.”

Observation time with Webb is in high demand, so it’s not clear when HH 1 and HH 2 will be photographed by the new space telescope. But when they are, astronomers will have access to considerably more visual information than they do with just Hubble. In the past, PetaPixel has shared how much more Webb is able to capture compared to Hubble, and just last week the Pillars of Creation image captured by Webb shows just how much more advanced its imaging system is by comparison.