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By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/21/2013 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Scientists observe a star ready to emerge from its cocoon of creative dust.

Astronomers have, observed a new star in the process of forming in the southern constellation Vela. Imaged using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, the data will help scientists recreate what happens when stars switch on.

Stars are born all the time and with new equipment, scientists are now observing the process as it happens.

Stars are born all the time and with new equipment, scientists are now observing the process as it happens.

Article Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/21/2013 (7 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Herbig-Haro Object, HHO46/47, ALMA, array, telescope, Chile, birth


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The images are dramatic, once you realize what you're seeing. Situated deep within a black cloud of dust, a star is beginning to blaze with youthful intensity as gas swirls around it and crashes onto its surface.

As the gas surrounding the star makes its final plunge towards the surface of the forming star, some of it is diverted along the magnetic poles of the star and shoots at incredible speed away from each pole. North and south, two fast moving jets of gas stream away from the star, crashing into other molecules of gas and dust and creating a pair of a brightly glowing jets.

Designated Herbig-Haro object 46/47, color enhanced images show pink and green jets of gas streaming into space.

HHO 46/47 as imaged by ALMA.

HHO 46/47 as imaged by ALMA.


The streaming effects is known as the Herbig-Haro effect and it is common with new stars which are in the process of accumulating material. A similar phenomenon is also seen on a massive scale with black holes. Some galaxies also sport the effect as supermassive blackholes at their hearts consume anything that wanders into the galactic core.

However, the Herbig-Haro effect is specific to new-formed stars and is short lived unlike the phenomenon seen accompanying black holes.

The effect appears to be a normal part of star formation. Once the star switches fully on, the surrounding layers of dust and gas will be blown out into space where they can form into planets and other objects, or will continue to sail until influenced by the gravity of another object.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile, South America.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile, South America.


HH 46/67 was imaged using the sensitive ALMA array, which is one of the world's most sensitive arrays in the world. Set high in the Atacama desert in Chile, the array is a group of 66 forty-foot telescopes which can be digitally connected to provide sharper and clearer images of objects in space.

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