NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have teamed up to uncover a mysterious infant star that behaves like a police strobe light.
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Protostar LRLL 54361

click here for larger view of figure 1 for PIA16690click here for larger view of figure 2 for PIA16690
Spitzer [left]Hubble [center]
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NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have teamed up to uncover a mysterious infant star that behaves like a police strobe light.

[Left] -- This is an infrared-light Spitzer image of LRLL 54361 inside the star-forming region IC 348 located 950 light-years away. The Spitzer Space Telescope discovered an unusual variable object that has the typical signature of a protostar. The object emits a burst of light every 25.34 days.

[Center] -- This Hubble Space Telescope monochromatic-color image resolves the detailed structure around the protostar, consisting of two cavities that are traced by light scattered off their edges above and below a dusty disk. The cavities were likely blown out of the surrounding natal envelope of dust and gas by an outflow launched near the central object.

[Right] PIA16689 -- This is an artist's impression of the hypothesized central object that may be two young binary stars. Astronomers propose that the flashes are due to material in a circumstellar disk suddenly being dumped onto the growing stars and unleashing a blast of radiation each time the stars get close to each other in their orbit.

Image details

ID#:
PIA16690

Date added:
2013-02-07

Mission:
Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope

Rating:



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Full-Res TIFF:
PIA16690.tif (16.21 MB)

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Image credit:
NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/NOAO/University of Arizona/ Max Planck Institute for Astronomy/University of Massachusetts, Amherst