Bright Young Star Shakes Up Parent Cloud

December 15, 2011 Updated: September 29, 2015
This image shows Sh 2-106, a compact star forming region in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan). A newly-formed star called S106 IR is shrouded in dust at the centre of the image, and is responsible for the surrounding gas cloud's hourglass-like shape and the turbulence visible within. Light from glowing hydrogen is colored blue in this image. (NASA & ESA)

A massive cloud of hydrogen gas is being disrupted by its violent adolescent star a few thousand light-years away towards the constellation of Cygnus.

Wide Field Camera 3 on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took these colorful composite shots of star-forming region Sh 2-106, or S106, home to the young star S106 IR, which has a mass around 15 times our sun.

Almost ready to begin life as a main-sequence star, S106 IR is shooting out high-speed matter at the engulfing gas cloud, causing it to become hot, turbulent, and hourglass-shaped.

With gas temperatures pushing 10,000 degrees Celsius, the star’s radiation makes the hydrogen lobes glow, appearing blue in this photograph.

In between, a cooler wide trail of dust shines red, almost totally obscuring the rebellious star.

The combined images show infrared light and visible light wavelengths from the ionized hydrogen gas, referred to as H-alpha. The special filter picks up light emitted by the excited hydrogen, while infrared can pierce the intervening dust.

This image shows a ground-based telescope image of the region around star forming region Sh 2-106. (NASA, ESA, Digitized Sky Survey 2 (Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin))