The birth of a star, captured in stunning detail [photos]

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Astronomers have captured stunning images of a star in the process of being born, and they are as beautiful as they are counterintuitive.

In the images above, you are not seeing the young star itself, but rather massive jets of gases such as carbon monoxide and ionized oxygen that are shooting away from the forming star at speeds of up to 1 million kilometers per hour (about 621,000 mph).

When these gas jets crash into the material surrounding the protostar, they begin to glow, creating what is known as the Herbig-Haro effect.


What you are looking at above is known as Herbig-Haro 46/47, and it is located in the southern constellation of Vela, 1,400 light-years from Earth.

Newly forming stars send out large jets of gas, even as they pull gas and other matter toward them in the process of their formation, explained Hector Arce, an associate professor at Yale University and the lead author of a new study about Herbig-Haro 46/47 that will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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