Hubble Resolves star formation

by | June 4, 2024, 12:00 PM | Galaxies & Cosmology

Image credit: NASA / ESA

One of the things I personally enjoy most about working in astronomy is the way yesterday’s empty star fields and faint smudges resolve into spectacular vistas and amazing nebulae as we build better telescopes and find the time to point them at interesting things.

That latter point – finding the time – is actually the one I think startles people the most. The Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1991 and has had corrective lenses since 1993. This means we have more than 30 years of stunning images… and yet.,.. And yet… Hubble is still finding stunning things to resolve into new science.

On May 15, NASA and ESA released a stunning image of three young stars clearing out gas and dust around them. The brightest of this trio is HP Tauri, a well known variable star. It is likely around 10 million years old and will one day grow up to be a star a lot like our own 4.6 billion year old Sun.

This system is just 550 light-years away, and it’s constantly varying brightness can be measured with an off the shelf ccd and a moderately sized backyard telescope…. Just be prepared to only see a fuzzy blob … a fuzzy blob that changes in brightness.