Even though James Webb stole the show, Hubble’s still up and running and still treating us with marvelous photos. It recently took an absolutely gorgeous image inside the Orion Nebula, detecting two young stars that are quite unsteady in temperament… Almost like human teenagers.
The bright variable star in the center is called V 372 Orionis, and it also has a smaller companion star in the upper left. As I mentioned, both stars are in the Orion Nebula, a colossal star formation region lying around 1,450 light years from Earth.
This image was taken using the data from two of Hubble’s instruments: the Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3. The diffraction spikes surrounding the bright stars are Hubble’s “signature,” created thanks to starlight interacting with the four vanes inside Hubble supporting the telescope’s secondary mirror.
For comparison, photos of stars taken with James Webb Space Telescope have six diffraction spikes thanks to Webb’s hexagonal mirror segments and 3-legged support structure for the secondary mirror.
I first noticed the almost perfect split between red and blue in this image. It instantly reminded me of polarity and opposites, as these colors symbolize hot and cold. While they are not essential for this image, they actually tell us something about the “mood” of the stars that are the main subjects.
“V 372 Orionis is a particular type of variable star known as an Orion Variable,” NASA explains. “These young stars experience some tempestuous moods and growing pains, which are visible to astronomers as irregular variations in luminosity.” See why I immediately connected their behavior with opposites and with teenagers? :) Didn’t we all have these mood fluctuations and “growing pains” in our teens?
via Universe Today; image credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Bally, M. Robberto]