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The Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) on February 4, 2014, shows star birth in action: a bipolar particle beam is seen, forming what we call a Herbig-Haro object, named for astronomers George Herbig and Guillermo Haro (see Section 12.1b, pp. 314-316).

Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA – Processing: Judy Schmidt

The powerful jet likely contains electrons and protons moving hundreds of kilometers per second. The above image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in infrared light in order to better understand turbulent star forming regions known as Young Stellar Objects (YSOs). Frequently when a star forms, a disk of dust and gas circles the YSO causing a powerful central jets to appear. In this case, the energetic jets are creating, at each end, Herbig-Haro object 24 (HH 24), as they slam into the surrounding interstellar gas. The entire star forming region lies about 1,500 light years distant in the Orion B molecular cloud complex. Due to their rarity, jets like that forming HH 24 are estimated to last only a few thousand years.

Links: APOD, February 4, 2014.

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