Herbig-Haro objects are rarely seen. This object is located in the NGC 1977 nebula, also called the Running Man Nebula, which is a complex structure of three nebulae in the Great Orion Nebula, about 5,000 light years from Earth.
The Running Man Nebula is a reflection nebula, which means that it does not emit light on its own but reflects light from nearby stars “like a streetlamp lighting up fog,” according to NASA. Hubble was looking in this region for “stellar jets and discs forming planets around young stars”. He was trying to examine how their environment affects the evolution of such disks.
The Hubble image showed two sets of ionized gases glowing in blue and purple. While blue denoted ionized oxygen, purple represented ionized magnesium. “The researchers were particularly interested in these elements because they could be used to identify shocks and ionization fronts,” said the statement from NASA.
This image was not a bad capture for an observatory that woke up after a technical glitch and went into “safe mode” in October. Hubble, a joint NASA-ESA project, was last serviced in person in 2009 and has not been visited by astronauts since 2011.
NASA is set to launch the most powerful James Webb Telescope in December as a “successor” to the Hubble Space Telescope. Citing the differences between the two, NASA said their capabilities were not the same. One of the differences reported by NASA was that while the James Webb Telescope would study the universe largely in the infrared, Hubble had focused on optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.