A window in Chile gives a glimpse of beautiful star jets
31 Ionawr 2022
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Have you heard of stellar jets? They are a common result of the formation of stars. Astronomers believe they’re formed by the interaction of magnetic fields of swirling young stars and the disks of gas around them. This clash results in huge smears of ionised gas going in opposite directions – just like in the picture above.
This amazing image you see here was taken by a team of astronomers using the Gemini South telescope, right at the edge of the Chilean Andes. The jet, named MHO 2147, is about 10,000 light-years from Earth (!) almost between the constellations Sagittarius and Ophiuchus.
The shape of a stellar jet depends a lot on the stars that create it. In the case of the MHO 2147 jets, their “mother star”, IRAS 17527-2439, is too dark for us to see, as it is hidden behind an infrared dark cloud – a cold region filled with dense gas that is not very visible at infrared wavelengths.
MHO 2147 has its river-like shape because the direction of the jet has changed over time and its slight ‘S’ shape is due to the continuous emissions from its central star. The jet’s change in direction can also result from the gravity of nearby stars acting on IRAS 17527-2439, MHO 2147’s central star.
All in all, IRAS 17527-2439 could belong to a triple star system separated by more than 300 billion kilometres (almost 200 billion miles)!
Image credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA. Acknowledgments: Image processing: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Zamani (NSF’s NOIRLab) & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab) PI: L. Ferrero (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba)
To make this image, astronomers used the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GSAOI). Adaptive optics is a technique in astronomy that makes up for the atmospheric turbulence that makes stars blur and twinkle. This video gets you covered on how it works.
This Space Scoop is based on a Press Release from