TECH

'Cosmic Sperm' Discovered In Deep Space

16/04/2014 14:52 BST | Updated 16/04/2014 14:59 BST

The European Space Agency has been involved in some incredible discoveries in recent years. But for sheer beauty and, let's face it, tittering schoolboy humour, none quite matches the majesty of Protostar IRAS 20324+4057.

AKA, the Cosmic Sperm.

The 'Tadpole', as it's officially dubbed on ESA's website, actually contains multiple protostars within its 'head'. When a protostar gathers enough mass from a surrounding cloud of dust and gas it will ignite, and turn into a fully-fledged star.

esa

ESA explains:

"The intense blue glow is caused by nearby stars firing ultraviolet radiation at IRAS 20324+4057, which also sculpts its tail into a long, wiggly shape. In total, this clump spans roughly a light-year from head to tail-tip, and contains gas weighing almost four times the mass of the Sun.

Framed against a background of distant stars, IRAS 20324+4057 is making its way through the Cygnus OB2 association, a loose cluster of stars some 4700 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus. This association is one of the largest clusters known, and is famed for its heavyweight members. It contains some of the hottest, most massive and most luminous stars known, some of which are some two million times more luminous than the Sun."

There is more detail about the picture over at ESA's website.