Perfectly timed for the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has imaged a cosmic double-bladed light-saber. In the center of the image, partially obscured by a dark Jedi-like cloak of dust, an adolescent star shoots twin jets out into space, demonstrating the fearsome forces of the Universe.
This celestial light-saber lies not in a galaxy far, far away, but within our home galaxy, the Milky Way. More precisely, it resides within a turbulent patch of space known as the Orion B molecular cloud complex, which is located just over 1350 light-years away in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter).
Bearing a striking resemblance to Darth Maul’s double-bladed light-saber in Star Wars Episode One, the spectacular twin jets of material slicing across this incredible image are spewing out from a newly formed star that is obscured from view, cloaked by swirling dust and gas.
When stars form within giant, gaseous clouds, some of the surrounding material collapses down to form a rotating, flattened disc encircling the nascent stars, which are known as protostars. This disc is where a potential planetary system might form. However, at this early stage, the star is mostly concerned with feeding its Jabba-like appetite. Gas from the disc rains down onto the protostar and, once nourished, the star awakens and jets of energized gas from its poles whirl out in opposite directions.
The Force is strong with these twin jets; their effect on their environment demonstrates the true power of the…