TECH
31/08/2011 09:59 BST | Updated 31/10/2011 05:12 GMT

Hubble Movies Show Star Birth For The First Time (VIDEO)

The Hubble telescope team has just released the first ever videos of stars like the Sun being born.

Astronomers have combined two decades of Hubble observations to make movies revealing never-before-seen details of the birth of new stars. This sheds new light on how stars like the Sun form.

Dr Tim O'Brien, reader in astrophysics at the University of Manchester told The Huffington Post UK "We're used to looking at objects that take thousands, maybe even billions of years to form, so to see this in movie format is exciting. it helps improve our understanding of these events. We have seen films like this of the sun, and we can see the planets revolving, but this is important and unusual because they are such distant objects."

Hubble's observations show that stars fire off jets of glowing gas travelling at supersonic speeds in opposite directions through space as they're formed. Still images of newly forming stars have been thrilling astronomers over the two decades of Hubble's observations, but video makes the event much more tangible for the non-expert.

Patrick Hartigan, of Rice University in Houston, USA, lead the team that has collected enough high-resolution Hubble images over a 14-year period to stitch together time-lapse movies of young jets ejected from three stars.

“For the first time we can actually observe how these jets interact with their surroundings by watching these time-lapse movies,” said Hartigan. “Those interactions tell us how young stars influence the environments out of which they form. With movies like these, we can now compare observations of jets with those produced by computer simulations and laboratory experiments to see which aspects of the interactions we understand and which we don’t understand.”