Astronomy in Action

This striking image features a relatively rare celestial phenomenon known as a Herbig–Haro object. This particular Herbig–Haro object is named HH111, and was imaged by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). These spectacular objects are formed under very specific circumstances. Newly formed stars are often very active, and in some cases they expel very narrow jets of rapidly moving ionised gas — gas that is so hot that its molecules and atoms have lost their electrons, making the gas highly charged. The streams of ionised gas then collide with the clouds of gas and dust surrounding newly-formed stars at speeds of hundreds of kilometres per second. It is these energetic collisions that create Herbig–Haro objects such as HH111.

WFC3 takes images at optical and infrared wavelengths, which means that it observes objects at a wavelength range similar to the range that human eyes are sensitive to (optical) and a range of wavelengths that are slightly too long to be detected by human eyes (infrared). Herbig–Haro objects actually release a lot of light at optical wavelengths, but they are difficult to observe because their surrounding dust and gas absorb much of the visible light. Therefore, the WFC3’s ability to observe at infrared wavelengths — where observations are not as affected by gas and dust— is crucial to observing Herbo–Haro objects successfully. 

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, B. Nisini

About the Image

Id: potw2135a
Type: Observation
Release date: 30 August 2021, 06:00
Size: 1066 x 947 px

About the Object

Name: HH 111
Constellation: Orion

Coordinates

Position (RA): 5 51 46.32
Position (Dec): 2&deg 48′ 38.71″
Field of view: 2.28 x 2.03 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 41.1° left of vertical



Colours & filters

Band Wavelength Telescope
Infrared
Fe II
1.26 μm

Hubble Space Telescope

WFC3

Infrared
Paschen Beta continuum
1.3 μm

Hubble Space Telescope

WFC3

Infrared
Fe II
1.64 μm

Hubble Space Telescope

WFC3

Infrared
Fe II continuum
1.67 μm

Hubble Space Telescope

WFC3

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