NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 recently captured an image of an object called HH111. At the same time, the image features a relatively rare celestial phenomenon known as a Herbig-Haro object.
Such objects are formed under particular circumstances. Infant stars are often very active, and in some cases, they expel very narrow jets of rapidly moving ionized gas.
The streams of ionized gas then collide with the clouds of gas and dust encompassing recently formed stars at velocities of many miles each second. It is these vivacious crashes that make Herbig-Haro objects like HH111.
Herbig-Haro objects release a lot of light at optical wavelengths, yet they are challenging to observe. The reason is their surrounding dust and gas that absorbs much of the visible light.
The WFC3’s ability to observe at infrared wavelengths– where observations are not as affected by gas and dust – is crucial to observing Herbo-Haro objects successfully.