A new image of the Herbig-Haro object captured by the James Webb Space Telescope shows a dramatic outflow from a young star. These bright flares are created when stellar winds blow in opposite directions from newborn stars, as jets of gas collide with nearby dust and gas at tremendous speeds. These objects can be up to several light-years across, and they shine in infrared wavelengths, conducted by James Webb.
This image shows the Herbig-Haro object HH 797, which is located close to the IC 348 star cluster, and also close to another Herbig-Haro object that Webb has recently captured: HH 211.
The image was taken using Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) instrument, which is particularly suitable for investigating young stars, Webb scientists explained in a statement, “Infrared imaging is a powerful tool for studying newborn stars and their outflows.” This is a powerful way of detecting stars, because the youngest stars are still contained within the gas and dust from which they formed. The infrared emission of the star’s outflow penetrates the obscured gas and dust, making Herbig–Haro objects sensitive to the web. Ideal for observation with infrared instruments.
“Molecules excited by turbulent conditions, including molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide, emit infrared light that Webb can collect to see the structure of the outflow. NIRCam is particularly good at observing hot (thousands of degrees Celsius) molecules that are excited as a result of shocks.
This particular Herbig–Haro object is unusual in that scientists originally believed it was created from a single young star, as are most such objects. But these detailed observations show that there are actually two sets of outflows coming from a pair of stars at the center.
In addition to the bright waves of the Herbig-Haro object in the lower half of the image, there are also believed to be more new stars being born in the upper half of the image. The yellow and green bright spot is believed to host two young protostars.