Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2011 September 5

HH 47: A Young Star Jet Expands
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, & P. Haritgan (Rice U.)

Explanation: Stars remain where they are. Nebulas appear the same. Day after day. Year after year. Given the vast distances in astronomy, even fast moving objects will not appear to change their appearance in a human lifetime. Typically. A recent spectacular exception to this, however, is the supersonic jet in the star forming Herbig Haro 47. HH 47 is so close -- and the jets are moving so fast -- that images from the Hubble Space Telescope from 1994 to 2008 have been combined into a time-lapse movie that actually shows a powerful jet expanding. Visible above, jets of plasma extending over 10,000 times the Earth-Sun distance shoot out from a forming star at speeds in excess of 150 kilometers per second. Studying how these jets evolve gives clues not only to how the star in HH 47 is forming, but how stars like our Sun formed billions of years ago. HH 47 is located about 1,500 light years away toward the constellation of Sails of a Ship (Vela).

Tomorrow's picture: butterfly cluster

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