Stunning image shows star forming 5,900 light-years from Earth


A spectacular new image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a likely new star forming in the Milky Way’s Scorpius constellation.

The telescope, which is jointly operated by NASA and the European Space Agency, glimpsed the likely star forming about 5,900 light-years from Earth, the agencies said in a news release.

The region where the star appears to be forming has been named IRAS 16562-3959. The star being formed is about 30 times the mass of the sun, NASA said, and it’s likely that this will be among the brightest stars in the galaxy.

The Hubble telescope’s detailed cameras allowed the space agencies to capture spectacular, colorful photos of the emerging star. The shadowy regions of the image are created by light-obscuring dust that blocks some wavelengths of light, according to the news release.

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is a relatively close star-forming region known as IRAS 16562-3959. / Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Fedriani, J. Tan

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is a relatively close star-forming region known as IRAS 16562-3959. / Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Fedriani, J. Tan

In the upper left and lower right portions of the image, a powerful jet from the forming star clears that dust away, allowing the camera to capture bold swaths of color. Those colors come from “four separate filters” placed in front of the camera’s light sensors, which allow “very specific wavelengths of light to pass through with each observation,” according to the news release. By studying these wavelengths, astronomers and scientists can learn more about the composition, temperature and density of the region being photographed.

The Scorpius constellation, where the star appears to be forming, is a zodiac constellation that resembles a scorpion, with the red star Antares at the center of it, according to astronomy website EarthSky. The constellation is best visible in July and August.

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