V 372 Orionis, a very bright variable star, appears in a new image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Released this Friday (27) by the European Space Agency, the photo shows it next to a smaller neighboring star. Both are located within the Orion Nebula, a large star-forming region.
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The image was produced from data from the Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3 cameras, which captured light at infrared and visible wavelengths. As they merge, they reveal fascinating details of this region of the nebula.
The variable star V 372 Orionis is of the “Orion Variable” type. This means that it is a young and, shall we say, “moody” star, and demonstrates its behavior to astronomers as irregular variations in its luminosity.
Normally, Orion’s variable stars are associated with diffuse nebulae. That’s true for V 372 Orionis, too, shown here shrouded in a cloud of gas and dust from the nebula that harbors it and its neighbor, both about 1,450 light-years from Earth.
Another interesting feature of the photo is the glowing tips of the stars in the photo. They are like a signature of Hubble: these artifacts come from interactions between starlight and the telescope’s internal systems, and thus reveal something of the structure of the telescope.
Stars appear four-pointed because they were created from four “blades” that support Hubble’s secondary mirror. The stars observed by the James Webb Telescope appear with six points, formed by the hexagonal segments of its mirrors and the three-part structure, which supports the secondary mirror.