News Release Archive:

News Release 180 of 1051

February 7, 2013 01:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2013-04

Strobe-like Flashes Discovered in a Suspected Binary Protostar


Image: Protostar LRLL 54361

Protostar LRLL 54361STScI-PRC2013-04a

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NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have teamed up to uncover a mysterious infant star that behaves like a police strobe light.

[Left] — This is a false-color, infrared-light Spitzer image of LRLL 54361 inside the star-forming region IC 348 located 950 light-years away. The Spitzer Space Telescope discovered an unusual variable object that has the typical signature of a protostar. The object emits a burst of light every 25.34 days.

[Center] — This Hubble Space Telescope monochromatic-color image resolves the detailed structure around the protostar, consisting of two cavities that are traced by light scattered off their edges above and below a dusty disk. The cavities were likely blown out of the surrounding natal envelope of dust and gas by an outflow launched near the central object.

[Right] — This is an artist's impression of the hypothesized central object that may be two young binary stars. Astronomers propose that the flashes are due to material in a circumstellar disk suddenly being dumped onto the growing stars and unleashing a blast of radiation each time the stars get close to each other in their orbit.

Object Names: LRLL 54361, L54361

Image Type: Astronomical/Illustration

Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Muzerolle (STScI), E. Furlan (NOAO and Caltech), K. Flaherty (University of Arizona/Steward Observatory), Z. Balog (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy), and R. Gutermuth (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Acknowledgment: R. Hurt (Caltech/Spitzer Science Center)


The above montage includes these images:

Star-forming Region IC 348 Around Protostar LRLL 54361 — Spitzer Image Type: Astronomical Star-forming Region IC 348 Around Protostar LRLL 54361 — Spitzer Protostar LRLL 54361 Light Echo — Hubble Image Type: Astronomical Protostar LRLL 54361 Light Echo — Hubble Artist's Impression of Pulsating Object LRLL 54361 Image Type: Illustration Artist's Impression of Pulsating Object LRLL 54361 Artist's Concept

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