A picture posted on NASA's official Instagram account has gone viral after showing what it looks like in space when a star is born.
The Hubble Space Telescope
The photograph, which has now amassed over 1.4 million likes on the social media platform, was taken with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope. The image was captured back in 2015 using infrared light technology, which allows the telescope to look through gas and dust—something that cannot be done by the human eye alone.
Infrared light technology is particular in that it is able to detect the thermal activity of foreign objects in order to allow us to have a better visual representation of them. NASA outreach specialist Maggie Masetti explained:
There are things [we] can’t see that we want to know more about, and we need an infrared telescope to learn about them.
Things like: stars and planets being born in clouds of dust and gas; the very first stars and galaxies which are so far away the light they emit has been pushed into the infrared; and the chemical fingerprints of elements and molecules in the atmospheres of exoplanets.
Herbig-Haro Jet HH 24
The birth of the star in question was found in the Milky Way and was named Herbig-Haro Jet HH 24. In the image taken, you can see a bright patch of nebulosity—a large cloud of gas and dust associated with newborn stars. Nasa said of the photograph:
In the center of the image, partially obscured by a dark cloak of dust, a newborn star shoots twin jets of hot gas out into space as a sort of birth announcement to the universe. When stars form within giant clouds of cool molecular hydrogen, some of the surrounding material collapses under gravity to form a rotating, flattened disk encircling the newborn star.