NASA telescope spies 'truly empty' hole in space

Herschel Space Observatory used infrared imagery to discover space gap

The Herschel Space Observatory has made a major finding - a hole in space.

The space telescope, which was launched almost exactly a year ago by the European Space Agency , spotted a gaping hole in the clouds surrounding a batch of young stars. The dark spot, or hole in space , actually is a gap in a "nest" of gas and dust containing fledgling stars, according to NASA.

The hole is close to a triple star system called V38O Ori. NASA scientists said the hole appears to have been created when one of the three stars in the system launched a jet of radiation, creating a gap in the swirl of gas and dust that contains fledgling stars. They also theorize that jets and stellar radiation from other stars contributed to the gap.

"No one has ever seen a hole like this," said Tom Megeath of the University of Toledo, Ohio, in a written statement. "It's as surprising as knowing you have worms tunneling under your lawn, but finding one morning that they have created a huge, yawning pit." Megeath is the principal investigator of the research and works in conjunction with NASA.

Herschel is helping scientists study the formation of stars , which are born hidden in dense clouds of dust and gas.

And NASA noted yesterday that while researchers have seen jets and winds of gas streaming from young stars in the past, it has been a mystery exactly how a star uses the jets to blow away its surroundings and emerge from its birth cloud. For the first time, Herschel may be seeing an unexpected step in this process.

When scientists first spotted the hole, they thought it was a particularly dark cloud until Herschel delivered an infrared image of it, allowing them to see that it actually is a hole in the gas and dust surrounding the young stars.

NASA noted that the hole actually looks "truly empty."

Herschel, which carries the largest mirror ever launched into space, is designed to observe a mostly uncharted part of the electromagnetic spectrum to gain more information about the birth of stars and galaxies, along with dust clouds and planet-forming discs around stars. Herschel also will be looking for water , one of the key elements of life, in remote parts of the universe.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld . Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com .

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Knowledge Center.

Tags NASA

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?