The birth of a star can be both violent and beautiful.
In a Hubble Space Telescope image released this week by NASA, an infant star shines within a cloud of golden gas and dust. IRAS 14568-6304, located about 2,500 light-years away, can be seen within the Circinus molecular cloud complex, one of the most prominent star-forming regions.
The young star is a particularly spectacular sight since it has a protostellar jet. This tail-like formation beneath the star is composed of remnants of gas and dust from the parent cloud that gave birth to the star.
IRAS 14568-6304, pictured beneath another young stellar object, is shrouded in a cloud of gas and dust. (Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgements: R. Sahai, NASA JPL/ Serge Meunier)
Stars are born when a gas cloud collapses under its own gravitational pull to form a hot core. But sometimes not all of the material winds up within the star, as seen in the image above. The remnants may one day become a planet or asteroid.
The image of IRAS 14568-6304 is similar to an image captured last year by the ALMA telescope in Chile. It shows illuminated jets spewing out of a newborn star.