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Hubble sees a new star announcing its presence with a cosmic light show

Hubble sees a new star announcing its presence with a cosmic light show

heic2406 – Image version

March 25, 2024

Jets emerge from the cocoon of a newly formed star to blast through space, cutting through gas and dust from a bright nebula, in this new image from NASA and the European Space Agency's Hubble Space Telescope.

FS Tau is a multi-star system consisting of FS Tau A, the bright star-like object near the middle of the image, and FS Tau B (Haro 6-5B), the bright object on the far right partly obscured by a dark vertical band of dust. These small objects are surrounded by softly lit gas and dust in this stellar nursery. The system is only about 2.8 million years old, which is very young for a star system. By contrast, our Sun is about 4.6 billion years old.

FS Tau B is a newly forming star, or protostar, that is surrounded by a protoplanetary disk, a pancake-shaped collection of dust and gas left over from the star's formation that will eventually merge to form planets. A thick dust band, seen almost from the edge, separates what are thought to be the bright surfaces of the disk.

FS Tau B is likely in the process of becoming a T Tauri star, a type of young variable star that has not yet begun nuclear fusion but is beginning to evolve into a hydrogen-fueled star similar to our Sun. Protostars shine with thermal energy released as the gas clouds from which they form collapse, and from the accretion of material from nearby gas and dust. Variable stars are a class of stars whose brightness changes significantly with time.

FS Tau A is itself a T Tauri binary system, consisting of two stars orbiting each other.

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Protostars are known to eject fast-moving, column-like streams of energetic material called jets, and FS Tau B provides an extreme example of this phenomenon. A protostar is an unusual, double-sided, asymmetric current source, shown here in blue. Their asymmetric structure may be due to mass being expelled from the body at different rates.

FS Tau B is also classified as a Herbig-Haro object. Herbig-Haro objects form when jets of ionized gas ejected by a young star collide with nearby clouds of gas and dust at high velocities, creating bright patches of haze.

FS Tau is part of the Taurus-Auriga region, a group of dark molecular clouds that are home to many newly forming stars and young stars, approximately 450 light-years away in the constellations Taurus and Auriga. Hubble has previously observed this region, and its star-forming activity makes it a compelling target for astronomers. Hubble made these observations as part of an investigation into dust disks around young stellar objects.

more information

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between the European Space Agency and NASA.

Image source: NASA, ESA, and K. Stapelfeldt (NASA JPL), G. Kober (NASA/The Catholic University of America)



Bethany Downer
ESA/Hubble Chief Science Communications Officer
Email: [email protected]