It may look like something out of a Hollywood special effects studio, but this image resembling a "lightsaber" slashing through space is for real. In a press release loaded with "Star Wars" puns, NASA said this photo from the Hubble Space Telescope was taken not in a "galaxy far, far away," but here in our own Milky Way.
It shows superheated jets shooting outwards from the birth of a star in the Orion B molecular cloud complex, some 1,350 light-years from Earth.
As the powerful jets collide with surrounding material, they form "tangled, knotted clumps of nebulosity" and are collectively known as Herbig-Haro (HH) objects, according to NASA. The "lightsaber" image features one known as HH 24.
"Science fiction has been an inspiration to generations of scientists and engineers, and the film series Star Wars is no exception," John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said in the press release. "There is no stronger case for the motivational power of real science than the discoveries that come from the Hubble Space Telescope as it unravels the mysteries of the universe."
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