Hunting for rogue planets and runaway stars
In the search for rogue planets and failed stars astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have created a new mosaic image of the Orion Nebula. During their survey of the famous star formation region, they found what may be the missing piece of a cosmic puzzle; the third, long-lost member of a star system that had broken apart.
This composite image of the Kleinmann-Low Nebula, part of the Orion Nebula complex, is composed of several pointings of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in optical and near-infrared light. Infrared light allows to peer through the dust of the nebula and to see the stars therein. The revealed stars are shown with a bright red colour in the image.
Credit: NASA, ESA/Hubble
The Orion Nebula is the closest star formation region to Earth, only 1400 light-years away. It is a turbulent place -- stars are being born, planetary systems are forming and the radiation unleashed by young massive stars is carving cavities in the nebula and disrupting the growth of smaller, nearby stars.
Because of this ongoing turmoil, Hubble has observed the nebula many times to study the various intriguing processes going on there. This large composite image of the nebula's central region, combining visual and near-infrared data, is the latest addition to this collection.
Astronomers used these new infrared data to hunt for rogue planets -- free-floating in space without a parent star -- and brown dwarfs in the Orion Nebula. The infrared capabilities of Hubble also allow it to peer through the swirling clouds of dust and gas and make the stars hidden within clearly visible; the unveiled stars appear with bright red colours in the final image.
Among these, astronomers stumbled across a star moving at an unusually high speed -- about 200 000 kilometres per hour . This star could be the missing piece of the puzzle of a star system that had been broken apart 540 years ago.
Astronomers already knew about two other runaway stars in the Orion Nebula which were most likely once part of a now-defunct multiple-star system. For years it was suspected that the original system contained more than just these two stars. Now, by virtue of accident and curiosity, Hubble may have found the missing third piece of this cosmic puzzle.
Whether the new star is indeed the missing -- and the last -- piece of the puzzle will require further observations. So will the answer to the question of why the original star system broke apart in the first place. While there are several theories -- interactions with other, nearby stellar groups, or two of the stars getting too close to each other -- none can be ruled out or confirmed yet.
And while the astronomers are looking for the answers to these questions, who knows what mystery they will find next?
 The relative speed of the star was calculated by comparing observations made in 1998 with the recent ones. The speed of the newly discovered star is almost 30 times the speed of most of the nebula's stellar inhabitants.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.
Image credit: NASA, ESA
Images of Hubble - http://www.
Hubblesite release - http://hubblesite.
ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
Cell: +49 176 62397500
Mathias Jäger, ESA/Hubble, Public | EurekAlert!
An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere
15.10.2019 | Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Putting quantum bits into the fiber optic network: Launching the QFC-4-1QID project
15.10.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.
The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...
Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.
Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...
A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.
The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...
Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...
How do some neutron stars become the strongest magnets in the Universe? A German-British team of astrophysicists has found a possible answer to the question of how these so-called magnetars form. Researchers from Heidelberg, Garching, and Oxford used large computer simulations to demonstrate how the merger of two stars creates strong magnetic fields. If such stars explode in supernovae, magnetars could result.
How Do the Strongest Magnets in the Universe Form?
02.10.2019 | Event News
02.10.2019 | Event News
19.09.2019 | Event News
15.10.2019 | Materials Sciences
15.10.2019 | Interdisciplinary Research
15.10.2019 | Life Sciences