While still under construction, the Atacama Large Millimetre Array has produced this image of jets streaming away from a young star, including one previously unknown jet. The ALMA data are superimposed on an optical image of Herbig-Haro 46/47, a young star about 1400 light-years away in the southern sky constellation of Vela. Here the patterns of jets is almost a textbook image of molecular outflow from a young star, formed by the star’s own winds. ALMA mapped the jets using carbon monoxide emission and used the Doppler shift to measure surprisingly high gas velocities. The lobe to the upper left is moving towards Earth, that to the lower right away from us into the cloud of gas and dust that formed the star itself – the dark region on the optical image. The detail in the ALMA image shows the interaction of this lobe with gas and dust, such as three clumps of matter associated by the researchers with episodic mass ejections every few hundred years. There is also evidence of a third jet, perpendicular to the other two and here shown in green, possibly associated with a binary companion. These data are published by Arce et al. in The Astrophysical Journal.
This image was published in the October 2013 issue of Astronomy & Geophysics.