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Photos: Moment of Violent Starbirth Captured

This stunning image of the birth of a star with colorful energetic jets combines both radio and visible light observations from some of the largest telescopes in the wolrd in Chile.   Credit: ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/H. Arce. Acknowledgements: Bo Reipurth

This stunning image of the birth of a star with colorful energetic jets combines both radio and visible light observations from some of the largest telescopes in the world located in Chile.
Credit: ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/H. Arce. Acknowledgements: Bo Reipurth

While Hollywood paparazzi prize a first snapshot of a celebrity’s newborn, astrophotographers are always on the hunt for something more elusive—the birth of distant stars like our sun.

Now it looks like astronomer may have photographic evidence. Using a giant radio telescope in the Chilean desert, they have managed to  snap images of the first moments of life of a true cosmic rock-star in never-before-seen, stunning detail. (Related: The Largest Baby Star, Ever?)

Thanks to the high resolution imaging capability of a new giant radio telescope array called the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have been able to reveal previously unseen powerful jets of carbon monoxide shooting out from opposite sides of a glowing mass of gas that’s home to a newborn star.

The ALMA observations reveal a large energetic jet moving away from us, as seen in the colors of orange and green in the lower right of the above image. Meanwhile another jet, visible in pink and purple towards the left of the baby star, is beaming towards Earth.

This wide-field view shows a rich region of dust clouds and star formation in the southern constellation of Vela. Close to the centre of the picture the jets of the Herbig-Haro object HH 46/47 can be seen emerging from a dark cloud in which infant stars are being born. Credit:  ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin

This wide-field view shows a rich region filled with sdust clouds and tar factories in the southern constellation of Vela. Close to the center of the image are the jets of the Herbig-Haro object HH 46/47 emerging from a dark cloud filled with newborn stars. Credit:
ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin

 

The object—which shines in a kaleidoscope of colors—is called Herbig-Haro 46/47. It was named for the astronomers who first studied their spectrum in detail—and sits some 1400 light years from Earth in the southern constellation Vela. (Related: “Most Massive Star Discovered—Shatters Record.”)

The speeds at which the jets are spewing out material has stunned scientists. Clocked at nearly a million kilometers (620,000 miles) an hour, these blasts slam into surrounding gas and dust—making them light up like neon signs.

This image from ESO's New Technology Telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the Herbig-Haro object HH 46/47 as jets emerging from a star-forming dark cloud.  Credit: ESO/Bo Reipurth

This image from ESO’s New Technology Telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the Herbig-Haro object HH 46/47 as jets emerging from a star-forming dark cloud.
Credit: ESO/Bo Reipurth

 

Up until now, a large, dark, dust cloud has made parts of these jets near invisible- as seen in the above visible light image taken by ALMA’s neighboring observatory, ESO’s New Technology Telescope (NTT). However with the combined power of 66 antennae working together,  astronomers have been able to pull back the veil of obscuring dust and capture in stunning detail the birth of a faraway star.

 

Comments

  1. solomon v a
    Bangalore
    August 28, 2013, 6:33 am

    Awesome Pictures…

  2. Heather Richards
    August 27, 2013, 7:54 pm

    So startlingly clear and beautiful images. Thankyou and keep up the good work.

  3. SHARU
    MUMBAI INDIA
    August 27, 2013, 8:54 am

    Superb and truly awesome. Just love the way science is so beautiful.

  4. Bill
    Somerset County NJ
    August 27, 2013, 7:52 am

    When will we have the technology to explore the universe? It seems a daunting undertaking. Just to be able to explore planets in this solar system. As much as I like to think that we will be doing it in my lifetime, the more I learn the more it seems that the stars will be out of reach for us simply because of the huge distances that have to be traveled. Thoughts?

  5. Ruthie
    Australia
    August 25, 2013, 9:44 pm

    Amazing!

  6. ang
    August 24, 2013, 10:04 pm

    incredible, giving me goose bumps!

  7. Trigg Lupher
    Tomball, Texas
    August 24, 2013, 4:31 pm

    Fantastic images.

  8. Suheil Shahryar
    United Kingdom
    August 24, 2013, 8:43 am

    Hello universe :-)

  9. Paul duke
    Cowbay
    August 24, 2013, 8:27 am

    Soon we will find what we are looking for and realize how little we know. History will be rewritten and a new religion will emerge.

  10. mari
    indonesia
    August 24, 2013, 7:04 am

    i wish they could reveal more pictures..these are a stunning pictures!

  11. lizelle
    south africa
    August 23, 2013, 5:04 pm

    …absolutely amazing!!…beautiful!!

  12. silvia
    usa, utha
    August 23, 2013, 3:19 pm

    woooo that is magnificent and beautiful I give anything to see an event like this in my life time and see it with my own eyes

  13. Cas
    August 23, 2013, 1:52 pm

    is it possible that ET contact has begun? I highly recommend you read the “Allies of Humanity Briefings” for some very important info on this.

  14. CARLOS PEÑALOZA VASQUEZ
    COLOMBIA
    August 23, 2013, 12:25 pm

    GRACIAS POR ESAS IMAGENES TAN EXPECTACULARES POR ESO USTEDES SON LA DIFERENCIA ANTE LOS DEMAS MEDIOS UN SALUDO DESDE GUANE SANTANDER COLOMBIA

  15. Georgi Pnkov
    London
    August 23, 2013, 7:44 am

    How long it was lasting? Couldn’t be captured as a video?

  16. Reshma
    RSA
    August 23, 2013, 12:54 am

    Wow so beautiful!

  17. Garrett
    August 23, 2013, 12:23 am

    Now this… this is beautiful, and incredibly badass :)

  18. Kathy
    Orlando, FL
    August 23, 2013, 12:07 am

    This is astounding!

  19. Ana Gutierrez
    Mercedes . Uruguay
    August 22, 2013, 9:46 pm

    Increíbles imágenes. Siempre estoy atenta a todas estas publicaciones. Siempre me atrajo todo lo referido nuestro Universo, tan espléndidamente reflejado tanto en sus notas como en el material fotográfico. Muchas gracias.

  20. joey
    ohio
    August 22, 2013, 9:02 pm

    Such an awesome picture of the stars and the herbig-haro.
    It’s just amazing what the atmosphere has in store for all of us. I love it . Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Good luck on the new finds you experience.

  21. lntan Baharuddin
    August 22, 2013, 8:45 pm

    Why carbon monoxide? l thought most stars are powered by hydrogen & helium.TQ

  22. johanna
    Western Australia
    August 22, 2013, 8:28 pm

    Love the pieces that you post, its all a learning curve. Thank you for the education&the interesting photo’s. Cheers JNK