Light echoes from LRLL 54361 (annotated)

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Hubble Space Telescope
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This time-lapse movie from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows a pulse of light emanating from the protostellar object LRLL 54361. Most if not all of this light results from scattering off circumstellar dust in the protostellar envelope.

An apparent edge-on disk visible at the centre of the object, and three separate structures are interpreted as outflow cavities. The extent and shape of the scattered light changes substantially over a 25.3-day period.

This is caused by the propagation of the light pulse through the nebula. Astronomers propose that the flashes are due to material in a circumstellar disk suddenly being dumped onto a binary pair of forming stars. This unleashes a blast of radiation each time the stars get close to each other in their orbit.

The near-infrared light images in this sequence were taken between 3 December 2010 and 26 December 2010.

More information and download-options:

NASA, ESA, and J. Muzerolle (STScI)

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