This week’s picture of Hubble Space Telescope shows Herbig-Haro objects, a pair, or objects captured by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument. The camera took the image using 11 different filters spread across visible, infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths of light, allowing researchers to observe different features.
This pair of Herbig-Haro objects is located 1,250 light-years away in the Orion constellation, and the objects form from the dramatic outbursts of newborn stars. They were the first Herbig-Haro objects to be recognized, giving rise to the names HH 1 and HH 2. Newborn stars only become Herbig-Haro objects under certain circumstances: the stars must emit jets of ionized gas that is extremely hot and loaded. These jets hit nearby clouds of dust and gas, creating the bright shapes in the collision.
“While both Herbig-Haro objects are visible, the young star system responsible for their creation lurks just out of sight, cloaked in the thick clouds of dust at the center of this image,” they wrote Hubble scientists. “However, an outflow of gas from one of these stars is coming out of the central dark cloud and is visible as a bright jet. Astronomers once thought that 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.
Hubble has photographed similar Herbig-Haro objects before, such as when it captured objects HH 46 and HH 47 in the Vela constellation or when it observed object HH 34 in the Orion Nebula, which is the site of vigorous star formation. One of the most impressive and unusual Hubble images is of object HH 505, which lies in a particularly colorful and attractive nebula that has been shaped and sculpted by the forces of jets emitted by young stars.