Hubble Image of the Week – A Stellar Fingerprint

Hubble Views Emission-Line Star IRAS 12196-6300

IRAS 12196-6300 is a young star located 2300 light-years away. It shows distinct emission lines revealing its chemical composition. The star hasn’t started burning hydrogen at its core yet, and reflection nebulae surrounding it indicate its youthful state. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgment: Judy Schmidt

Showcased at the center of this newly released NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is an emission-line star known as IRAS 12196-6300.

Located just under 2300 light-years from Earth, this star displays prominent emission lines, meaning that the star’s light, dispersed into a spectrum, shows up as a rainbow of colors marked with a characteristic pattern of dark and bright lines. The characteristics of these lines, when compared to the “fingerprints” left by particular atoms and molecules, can be used to reveal IRAS 12196-6300’s chemical composition.

Under 10 million years old and not yet burning hydrogen at its core, unlike the Sun, this star is still in its infancy. Further evidence of IRAS 12196-6300’s youth is provided by the presence of reflection nebulae. These hazy clouds, pictured floating above and below IRAS 12196-6300, are created when light from a star reflects off a high concentration of nearby dust, such as the dusty material still remaining from IRAS 12196-6300’s formation.

1 Comment on "Hubble Image of the Week – A Stellar Fingerprint"

  1. Madanagopal.V.C. | March 5, 2016 at 8:08 am | Reply

    The infancy of the star IRAS 12196-300 is well established by the cloud of gases of the nebulae surrounding it which churns out the light in spectacular colors. Once the star is fully grown all the gases will be absorbed by it once it starts fusion reaction of Hydrogen to produce Helium. Thank You.

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