Incredible Hubble Photo Shows Jets Blasting Across Space in Rare Celestial Phenomenon

In a new Hubble Space Telescope photo, a newborn star system is seen in all its dynamic glory 1,400 light years from Earth.
It's called IRAS 05491+0247 and is located at the center of a rare and beautiful cosmic interaction known as a Herbig Haro object. The Herbig-Haro object HH 111 is powered by a binary star, which sends powerful astrophysical beams into the surrounding space.

Herbig-Haro objects can be some of the most impressive in the galaxy. However, they need a certain set of circumstances. First, you will need a babystar. These stars are made from dense clumps formed in a molecular cloud. They collapse under their own gravity and spin to accret material from the cloud.

The star can then launch powerful plasma jets from its poles during this process. Some of the accretion material swirling around the star is thought to be funneled along star's magnetic fields, which accelerates the particles so that they can reach the poles at high speeds and launch them into space as tight collimated jets.

This material is ionized by the insane temperatures, transforming it into plasma.

These jets travel at speeds of hundreds of kilometers an hour and then smash into the molecular cloud surrounding them. These interactions cause hot temperatures to make the material glow brightly. However, they also evolve quickly, especially on cosmic timescales. They can change observably in just a few decades.

Jets coming from HH 111. (ESA/Hubble & NASA, B. Nisini)

One of the binary stars that created the HH 111 bipolar jet was located near a central star torus, which is a collection of gas and dust. This was the material that accreted the stars. A jet extends 12 light-years from each star's pole.

This star's binary companion is also spitting out jets as was discovered some years ago. It appears to be perpendicular to the first star. This means that its smaller jets blast out at right angles to larger ones.

These objects can be very bright in optical wavelengths but their dusty surroundings prevent much of the light from escaping. For example, instruments that penetrate dust can image in infrared wavelengths to reveal details we wouldn't otherwise be able. This is how secondary jets were first discovered in 2000.

Star system objects. (ESA/NASA).

Images from 2000 also revealed a third star. This appears to have been ejected out of the baby system in an interaction that could reveal why the Sun is not in a binary.

This new image was taken using Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 instrument. It shows the bright jets shining through the dense molecular cloud dust.

Download wallpaper-sized versions Hubble's image HH 111 from the Hubble website.