Drama of star's birth captured in images from telescope in Chile

Aug. 20, 2013 at 4:16 PM
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MUNICH, Germany, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- The birth of a star, recognized as an event involving extreme energies, may be even more energetic than previously thought, a telescope in Chile has revealed.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, operated by an international partnership, observed a young star about 1,400 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Vela ejecting material at high speed, causing surrounding gas to glow.

Such a glowing region of gas is known as a Herbig-Haro object, named after the first astronomers to extensively study them.

Alma observations of the object dubbed Herbig-Haro 46/47 revealed some of the ejected material had velocities much higher than had been measured before, suggesting outflowing gas from the developing star carries much more energy and momentum than previously thought.

"ALMA's exquisite sensitivity allows the detection of previously unseen features in this source, like this very fast outflow," research leader Hector Arce of Yale University said in a release from the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Munich, Germany.

The ALMA images reveal fine detail in two jets of ejected material, the researchers said, one coming toward Earth and one moving away, both at speeds higher than ever observed before.

"ALMA has made it possible to detect features in the observed outflow much more clearly than previous studies," Arce said.

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