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Gigantic gas jet points to newborn star.

Gigantic gas jet points to newborn star

Stars emerge from the collapse of large clouds of gas and dust. Material that doesn't fall directly toward the center collects into a disk surrounding the burgeoning star. As new cloud material feeds into this disk, matter from the disk's inner rim rains down on the new star. This matter is in such violent motion that some of it gets ejected into space. The recent discovery of a long, extremely narrow, high-speed jet of gas emerging from a young star bears witness to this scenario.

The jet, seen as a ribbon of glowing gas, is the largest flow from a young star yet found, says Bo Reipurth of the European Southern Observatory in La Silla, Chile. The star, still hidden in its molecular cloud, lies within the Orion star-formation region, about 1,500 light-years from Earth. Infrared measurements show the young star is about 25 times more luminous than the sun, indicating material is still spiraling down from the star's disk to its surface.

In this computer-enhanced image, the hidden star sits just below the long streak in the bottom half of the picture. The colored streak is the most visible part of the jet, but a faint glow above the streak indicates the jet actually extends much farther. Near the top of the picture, a small, bright, mushroom-shaped patch shows where the jet has rammed into a region of dense interstellar gas. Reipurth has detected similar patches (not shown) in the opposite direction from the star. The entire complex, designated HH111, extends 2 light-years.

These observations suggest a young star can erupt several times within a short period of time. "Clearly the HH111 complex represents a phenomenon that evolves with amazing rapidity," Reipurth reports in the July 6 NATURE.
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Author:Peterson, I.
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 22, 1989
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