JWST has taken an astonishing image of a baby star with powerful jets

JWST has taken an astonishing image of a baby star with powerful jets

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s image of Herbig-Haro 211

ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, Tom Ray

This newborn star is blasting out a pair of extraordinary jets. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) captured this image of a Herbig-Haro object, which forms when a young star spews powerful winds that smash into surrounding gas and dust at supersonic speeds.

The object, called Herbig-Haro 211 (HH 211), is located about 1000 light years away from Earth in the constellation Perseus. This makes it one of the nearest Herbig-Haro objects we know of. The new image is far more detailed than any that astronomers have taken of Herbig-Haro objects in the past.

That detail allowed researchers to measure the speed of the outflow emanating from the star at about 80 to 100 kilometres per second. This may seem fast, but it is relatively slow compared with the outflows from some older, more evolved stars.

The baby star at the centre of HH 211 is about 8 per cent the mass of the sun and far younger. In fact, it is one of the youngest Herbig-Haro objects ever spotted. Wiggles in the jets suggest that it may actually be a binary star, although even JWST isn’t powerful enough to tell the difference definitively.

Topics:

  • stars/
  • James Webb space telescope

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