Combined observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the newly completed Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile have revealed the throes of stellar birth, as never before, in the well-studied object known as HH 46/47 A newborn star, known as HH 46/47, as seen from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile.
Photo by: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ALMA

A Star is Born

by Noelle Knell / November 26, 2013

The thus-far elusive activities that occur during the birth of a new star have been uncovered, thanks to the combined observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.

These high-powered telescopes captured an image of an object known as HH (Herbig-Haro) 46/47, which occurs in conjunction around a star’s birth. HH objects are created when jets shot out by newborn stars collide with surrounding material. This produces small, nebulous regions usually obscured by the gas and dust that envelops the object, but visible due to the light seen by the telescopes.

In this image, the blue light shows the gas that is energized by the outflowing jets of the newborn star. The green lights show the boundary of the hydrogen and dust gas cloud that surrounds the fledgling star. The red color is created by excited carbon monoxide gas, and it helps reveal that the gas blown out by the star’s jets is expanding much more rapidly than was previously thought. This extra speed is thought to have an effect on the surrounding area’s turbulence, which can impact its likelihood of birthing new stars.

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ALMA