May the force be with you! Hubble Telescope takes photo of jet of blue gas in Orion constellation that looks like a LIGHTSABER
- The Hubble Space Telescope snapped a picture of a Herbig–Haro object that looks like a lightsaber
- HH111 is a ‘relatively rare celestial phenomenon’ and is in the Orion constellation
- Herbig–Haro objects occur when stars are newly formed and they throw off jets of rapidly moving ionized gas’
- The picture was taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, which can view in visible and infrared light
The force is strong with this one.
The Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a picture of a Herbig–Haro object in the Orion constellation that looks strikingly similar to a lightsaber from Star Wars.
Known as HH111, this ‘relatively rare celestial phenomenon’ was snapped by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), according to a statement from the European Space Agency.
‘These spectacular objects are formed under very specific circumstances,’ the ESA said.
The Hubble Space Telescope snapped a picture of a Herbig–Haro object that looks like a light saber, known as HH111
This object is a ‘relatively rare celestial phenomenon’ and is in the Orion constellation (pictured)
Hubble’s WFC3 takes images in visible and infrared light, allowing for astronomers to see objects through the gas and dust of space more clearly.
The ESA added that when stars are newly formed, they are often very active and throw off ‘jets of rapidly moving ionized gas.’
This gas gets so hot that ‘its molecules and atoms have lost their electrons, making the gas highly charged,’ the ESA explained.
The ionized gas eventually collides with the clouds of gas and dust that surround the newly formed stars at hundreds of kilometers per second.
But since they release so much light at optical wavelengths, they are difficult to view.
‘Therefore, the WFC3’s ability to observe at infrared wavelengths — where observations are not as affected by gas and dust— is crucial to observing Herbo–Haro objects successfully,’ the ESA added.
According to NASA, Herbig-Haro objects are ‘bright patches of nebulosity associated with newborn stars.’
They generally take the form of thin jets of partially ionized gas in deep space that are ‘ejected by stars collide with nearby clouds of gas and dust,’ the US space agency added.
In 2015, the Hubble took an image of another Herbig-Haro object, HH24, that also looks like a lightsaber.
NASA went so far as to mention Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the fact it looks like a ‘cosmic, double-bladed lightsaber’ in its description.
HH24 is located in the Orion B molecular cloud complex, roughly 1,350 light-years from Earth.
The picture was taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, which can view in visible and infrared light
Last month, Hubble’s WFC3 was responsible for releasing an image of a stellar nursery, AFGL 5180, 5,000 light-years from Earth.
The Hubble, which has operated for over 30 years, is set to be replaced by the $10 billion James Webb Telescope when it launches later this year.
Scientists study the atmosphere of distant exoplanets using enormous space satellites like Hubble
Distant stars and their orbiting planets often have conditions unlike anything we see in our atmosphere.
To understand these new world’s, and what they are made of, scientists need to be able to detect what their atmospheres consist of.
They often do this by using a telescope similar to Nasa’s Hubble Telescope.
These enormous satellites scan the sky and lock on to exoplanets that Nasa think may be of interest.
Here, the sensors on board perform different forms of analysis.
One of the most important and useful is called absorption spectroscopy.
This form of analysis measures the light that is coming out of a planet’s atmosphere.
Every gas absorbs a slightly different wavelength of light, and when this happens a black line appears on a complete spectrum.
These lines correspond to a very specific molecule, which indicates it’s presence on the planet.
They are often called Fraunhofer lines after the German astronomer and physicist that first discovered them in 1814.
By combining all the different wavelengths of lights, scientists can determine all the chemicals that make up the atmosphere of a planet.
The key is that what is missing, provides the clues to find out what is present.
It is vitally important that this is done by space telescopes, as the atmosphere of Earth would then interfere.
Absorption from chemicals in our atmosphere would skew the sample, which is why it is important to study the light before it has had chance to reach Earth.
This is often used to look for helium, sodium and even oxygen in alien atmospheres.
This diagram shows how light passing from a star and through the atmosphere of an exoplanet produces Fraunhofer lines indicating the presence of key compounds such as sodium or helium