Two days in and Star Wars: the Force Awakens is nearing record heights from any possible angle. You know what else is related to the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga? The recently released Hubble images depicting a cosmic double-sided lightsaber jutting out of a newborn star.
Alright, it may be a bit of a hook, but really, the images are spectacular and ESA and NASA scientists are huge Star Wars fans too. So pardon the associations (for all the disgruntled fans out there), but the Star Wars saga and the science fiction genre is really an inspiration.
And take a look at this video created on the basis of the Hubble images depicting a cosmic double-sided lightsaber seemingly slashing through that cosmic dust cloud. It’s fascinating at least.
Now, for some background. This seemingly double-sided lightsaber is a result of material collapsing onto a newborn star. In our universe, clouds of gas and dust come together to bring newborn stars into existence. Under certain conditions, as the clouds fall inwards, protostars are created. Still acting as a protective and somewhat feeding shield, the clouds of gas and dust cloak the newborn stars until they become sufficiently powerful to jumpstart the fusion process.
Thus, the star starts feeding on material collapsing into it. The double-sided lightsaber is in fact formed of two fiery jets created as a result of the fusion process. One fiery jet at each of the stellar poles. Once reaching surrounding material, the fiery jets forming the double-sided lightsaber inflict curved shock waves. These, in turn create material clumps which are scientifically known as Herbig-Haro objects (HH objects).
What you see in the video surrounding the newborn star is called HH 24. The shock fronts start heating up the clouds of gas up to temperatures reaching thousands of degrees. The two fiery jets seen in the Hubble images and video are very short compared to what has been typically observed. They only measure 1.34 trillion miles from one end to another or about one quarter of a light year.
It seems due to their measurement and their interaction with the material around that they may have formed quite recently. The newborn star is part of the Milky Way, located in the Orion constellation, just a bit over 1,350 light-years away.
Another interesting fact about the Hubble images is that despite the double-sided lightsaber stealing the attention, there are in fact many others around. Smaller, they nonetheless contribute to the most dense concentration of HH object observed in a small region as this one.
Photo Credits: NASA