Dazzling blue clouds mark the first breath of newborn stars

February 21, 2019, 8:18 a.m.

The brilliant blue celestial exhalations of a newborn star were recently captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Called Herbig-Haro objects, these beautiful patches of nebulous gas and dust are commonly found in star-forming areas.

According to NASA, the blue Herbig-Haro patches in this image are moving towards the upper left and away from their parent star at speeds up to 150,000 miles per hour. They're formed when narrow jets of partially ionized gas are ejected from a young star and collide with interstellar medium to produce a brilliant hot glow — what NASA refers to as "smoking gun" evidence of a star's birth. It's estimated that Herbig-Haro objects have an average temperature of over 17,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

While beautiful, they're a transient phenomenon, lasting "only" a few tens of thousands of years before fading away. As shown in the European Space Agency video below, they can also appear as virtual "lightsabers," extending out like arms from a newborn star.