Does this photo show a star being born?


Almost resembling an abstract artistic rendering of space, a photograph shared with Instagram on October 4, 2021, claimed to show a star being born. With orange and blue colors floating around what appeared to be a linear beam of light, the celestial origins of photography have been described by NASA:

A star was observed by the The Hubble Space Telescope in 2015 using infrared light, which allows the telescope to look through gas and dust to reveal stars as they form. Invisible to the human eye, infrared light is used to visualize the thermal activity, or heat, of objects in order to paint a clearer picture of worlds beyond our own.

“In the center of the image, partially obscured by a dark cloak of dust, a newborn star projects twin jets of hot gas into space as a sort of birth announcement to the universe. noted NASA in an article dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Telescope.

Hubble has several cameras and measuring devices that capture images, but they are all in false color or black and white. To get the vivid colors seen in photographs taken by the telescope, scientists assign different colors.

“To sum up, there are things that Hubble cannot see that we want to know more about, and we need an infrared telescope to find out more. Things like: stars and planets born in clouds of dust and gas; the very first stars and galaxies so far away that the light they emit was pushed into the infrared; and the chemical fingerprints of elements and molecules in the atmosphere of exoplanets ”, wrote Maggie Masetti, NASA Outreach Specialist.

Found in the Milky Way, our home galaxy, the event pictured is describe by NASA as Herbig-Haro Jet HH 24, a bright spot of cloudiness, or a large cloud of gas and dust, associate with newborn stars. These form when narrow jets of partially ionized gas ejected from stars collide with nearby nebulous matter.

The photograph showed a star born in a “turbulent birthing ground” known as the Orion B molecular cloud complex, located 1350 light years from Earth. (A light year is the measure of light traveling in a single Earth year, equalize a light year at 6 trillion miles.) In the Orion complex, Orion B meets the neighboring cloud complex of Orion A in the constellation Orion. Over a few million years, thousands stars were born in this active double cloud zone.

“When stars form in giant clouds of cold molecular hydrogen, some of the surrounding material collapses under gravity to form a rotating flattened disc encircling the newborn star.” , wrote NASA in December 2020 blog post accompanying the image.

“Although the planets later freeze into the disk, at this early stage the protostar feeds on the disk with a voracious appetite. The gas from the disk rains on the protostar and engorges it. The superheated material spills out and is thrown outward from the star in opposite directions along a clear escape route – the star’s axis of rotation.

The shocks along these jets heat the surrounding gas to temperatures reaching thousands of degrees Fahrenheit which then collide with the surrounding nebulous material “like a jet of water plowing down a hill of sand.”

The Hubble Space Telescope hovers at the border of Earth and space in this photo, taken after Hubble’s second maintenance mission in 1997. Hubble drifts 353 miles above the Earth’s surface, where it can avoid the atmosphere and clearly see the objects in space. Nasa

NASA launched the school bus-sized telescope in 1990, and for the next three decades, Hubble circled the earth at a speed of 5 miles per second, the equivalent of driving a car. across North America in 10 minutes. Hubble not only saw stars rise, but it captured stars as they died and planets, stars and galaxies billions of miles away. It works by facing and photographing space just outside Earth’s atmosphere, which otherwise blocks most of the light from space. This, NASA said, allows the telescope to take pictures digitally and send them back to Earth using radio waves.

Hubble’s successor will be the James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s largest and most powerful telescope to be launched into space in December 2021.

And if that wasn’t enough stellar excitement to tide you over until then, here are some other out of this world footage captured by Hubble:

Stellar birth

A Hubble view of a sparkling jewelry box full of stars captures the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. Aging red giant stars coexist with their more numerous and younger cousins ​​- the smaller, white, Sun-like stars – in this crowded region of our galaxy’s former central bulge.

Carina Nebula

This is a 50 light-year-scale view of the central region of the Carine Nebula where a maelstrom of star birth and death is unfolding.

Pillars of creation

Hubble’s legendary ‘Pillars of Creation’ are bathed in the dazzling ultraviolet light of a cluster of massive young stars at the top of the image. Coils of gas can be seen bleeding from the pillars as the intense radiation heats up and evaporates into space. The denser regions of the pillars protect the material beneath them from the strong radiation.

Stellar jewelry box

This ancient stellar jewelry box, a globular cluster called NGC 6397, shines with the light of hundreds of thousands of stars.

Star Eta Carinae

Hubble has watched the super-massive star Eta Carinae for more than two decades. The star, the largest member of a double star system, was subject to violent explosions, including an episode in the 1840s in which ejected matter formed the bipolar bubbles seen here.


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Infrared waves | Direction of the scientific mission. Accessed October 5, 2021.

James Webb Space Telescope – Webb / NASA. Accessed October 5, 2021.

MSFC, Jennifer Wall:. “What is the Hubble Space Telescope? NASA, May 21, 2015,

Nowakowski, Tomasz, and Structure of the Orion A molecular cloud studied in detail. Accessed October 5, 2021.

Smith, Yvette. “Awaken the newborn stars.” NASA, December 2, 2020,

“Awaken the newborn stars.” NASA, December 2, 2020,

“The Truth About Hubble, JWST, and False Colors.” NASA Blueshift, Accessed October 5, 2021.

What is a light year? | NASA Space Square – NASA Science For Kids. Accessed October 5, 2021.


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