NASA’s Hubble reveals “glittering cosmic geode” in new image

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted three young stars shining through a nebula as they orbit each other, one of which is about to ignite.

This ‘glittering cosmic geode’ triple star system – each called HP Tau, HP Tau G2 and HP Tau G3 – is located about 550 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Taurus.

HP Tau in particular is incredibly young compared to our own sun, and hasn’t even started nuclear fusion, the process by which stars fuse hydrogen into helium to power themselves.

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Hubble image of the triple galaxy. One of these stars is a T Tauri star, which means it has not yet started nuclear fusion.

NASA, ESA, G. Duchene Université de Grenoble I); Image processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America

HP Tau is a T Tauri star, a class of young, variable stars in the early stages of stellar evolution. They are typically less than 10 million years old, while the Sun, by comparison, is about 4.6 billion years old.

These stars are found in star-forming regions such as nebulae, and are considered the precursors of main sequence stars like our Sun. started hydrogen fusion in the core. Most of these stars are in binary systems, and about half have disks of debris around them that could one day condense into planets, in much the same way that our own solar system formed.

The image shows HP Tau with its two other companion stars in a reflection nebula. Reflection nebulae are only seen due to reflecting light from nearby stars, and do not emit visible light themselves.

You can see that HP Tau’s brightness fluctuates over time due to its status as a variable star, which is common with T Tauri stars. This variability is caused by unstable and often vigorous stellar activity, which results from material falling into the star, stellar outbursts and giant sunspots.

This photo was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, a vast space observatory that has revolutionized our understanding of the universe since its launch in 1990.

Hubble has made numerous groundbreaking discoveries, including the Hubble Deep Field and Ultra Deep Field images, which revealed thousands of galaxies in a small patch of sky and provided insight into the early universe. Hubble also played a key role in obtaining accurate measurements of the universe’s expansion rate, contributing to the understanding of dark energy, the detection and analysis of exoplanet atmospheres, and the study of the structure and behavior of galaxies.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – which began returning images in 2022 – represents a significant technological and scientific advance over Hubble. JWST’s larger mirror allows it to capture more light, making it much more sensitive and able to detect fainter objects. Moreover, it is optimized for infrared observations, meaning it is ready to study the formation of stars and planets and observe distant galaxies from the beginning. universe, and analyze the atmospheres of exoplanets.

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