Hubble Captures an Image of a Strange Nebula and a Star on the Move
During one of the few moments when it wasn’t already assigned, the Hubble Telescope captured images of a strange nebula with a distinctive feature.
The Hubble Space Telescope is the gift that keeps on giving. Even though it is aging, and even though its replacement is nipping at its heels, it continues to give us images like the one above that contain plenty of details in them to blow the odd mind or two.
The image is a snapshot of nebula IRAS 05437+2502, a little-known nebula that has barely been documented – not for any particular reason, just because space is just amazingly big.
The nebula is located in the constellation Taurus, relatively close to the Milky Way’s central plane. At first, it looks like many other nebulae, and despite being stunningly beautiful (assuming you’re into that sort of thing, as we are), it’s more or less unremarkable. But a closer look at the illuminated center, the part that looks like a boomerang, reveals something far cooler.
“At first glance [the nebula] appears to be a small, rather isolated region of star formation, and one might assume that the effects of fierce ultraviolet radiation from bright, young stars probably were the cause of the eye-catching shapes of the gas,” the European Space Agency wrote in a blog post for NASA. “However, the bright, boomerang-shaped feature may tell a more dramatic tale.
“The interaction of a high-velocity young star with the cloud of gas and dust may have created this unusually sharp-edged, bright arc. Such a reckless star would have been ejected from the distant young cluster where it was born and would travel at 200,000 kilometers per hour (124,000 miles per hour) or more through the nebula.”
Our universe is an amazing place, and catching a young star rocketing through the cosmos at 124,000 mph is just another example. It’s one of those celestial facts that’s so mind-bending that you just have to accept it and move on.
The image is the latest from the Hubble, a mission that just keeps on giving. Hubble’s replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope, was initially set to launch this year, but technical issues have led to multiple delays. The new launch date is set for March 2021. But even when it does reach space and begins to take over many of its predecessor’s duties, Hubble has so exceeded its original expectations in terms of lifespan that could remain in service until 2030, or even 2040.
And as long as it keeps giving us images like this, more power to it.