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Hubble Captures a Breathtaking Light Show From a Powerful Protostellar Jet

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this spectacular image of G35.2-0.7N, a region known for its high-mass star formation. Located approximately 7200 light-years from Earth in the Aquila constellation, this area houses at least one B-type star. This star emits a powerful protostellar jet, which can be observed as a radiant display in the image.  Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Fedriani, J. Tan

This breathtaking image from the Hubble Space TelescopeThe Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as Hubble or HST) is one of NASA's Great Observatories and was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990. It is one of the largest and most versatile space telescopes in use and features a 2.4-meter mirror and four main instruments that observe in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It was named after astronomer Edwin Hubble.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Hubble Space Telescope shows a region called G35.2-0.7N, which is known as a hotbed of high-mass star formation. The kind of stars that form here are so massive that they will end their lives as destructive supernovae. However, even as they form they greatly impact their surroundings. At least one B-type star — the second most massive type — lurks within the region pictured here, and a powerful protostellar jet that it is launching towards us is the source of the spectacular light show.

Taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), which is mounted on the NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, this image captures the region G35.2-0.7N which lies approximately 7200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Aquila.

This beautiful picture was assembled using data that were collected primarily for very specific research purposes, as are many of the Hubble Pictures of the Week. The research conducted using these data included measuring the extent of ionization in the jets being blasted out of the protostar buried within G35.2-0.7N. Ionization is a process by which atoms or molecules become charged, often because they are in such a high-energy environment that they have lost some of their electrons (the tiny negatively charged particles that orbit nuclei in atoms and molecules).

Protostellar jets are enormous collimated beams of matter that are ejected from protostars. Collimated simply means that the matter is ejected in parallel (column-like) streams, which in turn means that the jets do not spread out much, but extend out very far in relatively straight lines.

The visual result of the ejected matter is the glorious display visible in this image. Much of the nebula is dark, with light being blocked from Hubble’s view by the rich dust clouds that produce these massive stars.

Near the very center can be seen the location of the star and the jet of material it is emitting. The small, bright orange streak there is a cavity in the dust carved out by the ferocity of the jet as it streams toward us. By breaking through its dusty cocoon, the jet reveals light from the protostar, but there is still so much dust that the light is “reddened” to a fiery orange. The massive protostar lies at the very lower-left tip of this cavity.

Source: SciTechDaily