ALMA captures close-up of newborn star

This image made available by the European Southern Observatory on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013 using radio and visible light frequencies shows the Herbig-Haro object HH 46/47. The orange and green, lower right, of the newborn star reveal a large energetic jet moving away from the Earth, which in the visible is hidden by dust and gas. To the left, in pink and purple, the visible part of the jet is seen, streaming partly towards the Earth. Astronomers say these illuminated jets from the newborn star are spewing out faster than ever measured before and are more energetic than previously thought.
AP Photo/ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/H. Arce, Bo Reipurth

Astronomers recently captured a close-up image of material jetting away from a newborn star.

Taken with the Atacama Large Millimenter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile, the image shows a glowing mass, called Herbig-Haro 46/47, that formed when the materials collided with gas and dust.

According to a press release from the European Southern Observatory, young stars eject materials at up to one million kilometers per hour. Herbig-Haro objects are named for the U.S. and Mexican astronomers who first studied them in detail.

Herbig-Haro 46/47 is 1,400 light years away in the constellation Vela. The two jets that are visible in the photo are moving in opposite directions, one towards Earth.

These are among the first images captured by ALMA, which was still under construction at the time of capture. ALMA is an internationally-funded effort with a price-tag of more than $1 billion.

In images captured previously, using other telescopes, the view of the second jet was obstructed by dust clouds surrounding the newborn star. The new images allowed astronomers to more accurately measure the velocity of the jets.

"This system is similar to most isolated low mass stars during their formation and birth," said Diego Mardones of the Universidad de Chile in a press release. "But it is also unusual because the outflow impacts the cloud directly on one side of the young star and escapes out of the cloud on the other. This makes it an excellent system for studying the impact of the stellar winds on the parent cloud from which the young star is formed."

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    Danielle Elliot is a freelance science editor and reporter for CBS News. She holds an M.A. in science and health journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland. Follow her on Twitter - @daniellelliot.