New Hubble Image Shows Space Geyser
July 3, 2012

New Hubble Image Shows Space Geyser

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

The Hubble Space Telescope has unleashed a new image of a geyser of hot gas flowing from a newborn star.

In the new image, Herbig-Haro 110 is seen showing off a turbulent streamer of gas, streaking across the picture.

"Resembling a Fourth of July skyrocket, Herbig-Haro 110 is a geyser of hot gas from a newborn star that splashes up against and ricochets from the dense core of a cloud of molecular hydrogen," NASA said.

Herbig—Haro (HH) objects come in a  variety of shapes, according to ESA, but the basic configuration is usually the same.

ESA said HH objects are twin jets of heated gas, ejected in opposite directions from a forming star, streaming through interstellar space. These outflows are fueled by gas falling onto the young star, which is surrounded by a disc of dust and gas. If the disc is the fuel tank, the star is the gravitational engine, and the jets are the exhaust, according to ESA.

The structures shown in these objects exist because the jets are not being blown through pure vacuum. When the energetic and fast-moving Herbig-Haro jets slam into colder gas, they form shock fronts that behave much like the bow waves that form in the front of a boat.

These bow shocks glow due to very high temperatures, and considered to be a distinctive feature of Herbig-Haro objects.

ESA said the objects act like a ticker-tape, recording the activity of the star that is the origin of the jet. Erratic outbursts from the star happen at times when more matter is falling in, and these are recorded as brighter knots of blobs within the HH.

Although the jets are very fast-moving, they are also very large, and the streamer of gas being shown in the HH 110 image is around half a light-year in length.

By measuring the current speed and positions of blogs within an HH object, astronomers are able to turn the motion of the knots backwards to the movement they were emitted, which tells scientists about the environment directly around the forming star.

The HH 110 image was taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys in 2004 and 2005, and the Wide Field Camera 3 in April 2011.