Tornados in Space?

Okay, let me explain what that is, slowly, using big words. High-energy particles spewing out of a young star in a nearby stellar nursery (still with me?) are plowing through interstellar clouds, and thus creating a giant spiral structure that looks like a big old rainbow tornado. This is all happening 480 light-years way in a region known as Chamaeleon I. The tornado-like structure is known as a Herbig-Haro object and is estimated to be about 2 trillion miles long, or about 0.3 light years.

Herbig-Haro is the term to describe the process of particles being spewed out and plowing through interstellar clouds. Astronomers have known about Herbig-Haro objects for decades but have never observed one. This jet is known as Herbig-Haro 49/50. The reason 49/50 is rainbow-colored is because particles at the tip of the ject are "more excited" than those nearer the star, and thus radiate different wavelength emissions.... Basically, it's just rainbow colored, OK? This object was found by a team at Colorado State University. (source)


Grace said...

That is so cool!!!

Erika said...

I'm on Stars for S.O.!! I'm learning alllll about this stuff!!