Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have captured a stunning image of IRAS 05506+2414, an enigmatic stellar object surrounded by a shroud of thick gas and dust.
IRAS 05506+2414 resides over 3,700 parsecs (12,000 light-years) away in the constellation of Taurus.
Also known as GLMP 132, the object is thought to be an example of an explosive event caused by the disruption of a massive young star system.
“If so, it would only be the second such example known,” Hubble astronomers said.
“Usually the swirling disks of material surrounding a young star are funneled into twin outflows of gas and dust from the star.”
“In the case of IRAS 05506+2414, however, a fan-like spray of material traveling at velocities of up to 350 km per second is spreading outwards from the center of this image.”
The researchers turned to Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instrument to precisely measure the distance to IRAS 05506+2414.
“While it is possible to measure the velocity of material speeding outwards from the star, we cannot tell how far from Earth the star actually is from a single observation,” they explained.
“However, by measuring the distance that the outflow travels between successive images, we will be able to infer the distance to IRAS 05506+2414.”
“This will allow us to determine how bright the star is and how much energy it is emitting, and hence to estimate its mass — all vital information that will help to understand the origin of this bright young star’s unusual outflow.”
The composite image of IRAS 05506+2414 was assembled from images taken in infrared light.
Fur filters were used to sample various wavelengths. The color results from assigning different hues to each monochromatic image associated with an individual filter.
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