Star gas, heading fast out of Dodge

Cosmos Magazine


Cosmos is a quarterly science magazine. We aim to inspire curiosity in ‘The Science of Everything’ and make the world of science accessible to everyone.

By Cosmos

This picture, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, operated jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), can never be repeated.

Should the Hubble turn its gaze again to the exact same coordinates the relationship between the objects depicted will be markedly different.

The blue items, in the top left quadrant of the frame, are known as Herbig–Haro objects. They are formed when jets of ionised gas ejected by a young star collide with nearby clouds of gas and dust at high speeds. 

In this instance, they were spat out by a star called SVS 13, located about 1000 light-years from Earth. Herbig–Haro objects are transient things. They move at 250,000 kilometres per hour. When Hubble snapped them, late last year, they had already travelled the equivalent of 20,000 times the distance between Earth and the Sun.

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