This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals new secrets of star birth as recorded in a spectacular jet of gas the star has ejected.
[center] - Resembling the vertebrae of an imaginary space alien, this one-half light-year long jet of gas has burst out of a dark cloud of gas and dust which hides the newly forming star located in the lower left corner of the image.
[upper left] - An enlargement of a portion of the jet near the star shows the complicated interactions that take place when the ejected gas collides with the interstellar medium. The apparent changes in direction might be produced by wobbling of the star, as it feels the gravitational tug of an unseen companion star or instability mechanisms.
[lower right] - A massive clump of jet material collides with upstream gas and creates a bow-shaped shock wave, like a boat speeding across a lake. Through this process the jet sweeps out a cavity around the star and may thereby restrict how much material is available to fall onto the star as part of the gravitational accretion process.
The images used to make this picture were taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on March 26 and 29, 1994. HH-47 lies about 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Vela. The star is forming in a dense gas cloud at the edge of the Gum Nebula.
Co-investigators: B. Reipurth (European Southern Observ.), S. Heathcote (Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observ.), P. Hartigan (Rice Univ.), J. Bally (Univ. of Colorado), R. Schwartz (Univ. of Missouri), J. Stone (Univ. of Maryland).
The insets show portions of the jet that were computer enhanced by A. Boden and D. Redding (JPL) and J. Mo and R. Hanisch (STScI).