In the process of evolving from high-spirited adolescence to main sequence maturity, a hot young star known as S106 IR blasts out gas into its parent nebula, disrupting the clouds of dusty debris and sculpting a spectacular hourglass shape. The star’s radiation is heating up the surrounding gas to temperatures of 10,000 degrees Celsius, ionising the hydrogen lobes and making them glow blue in this image.
The star was the 106th object catalogued by astronomer Stewart Sharpless in the 1950s. It is located a few thousand light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, part of a small star-forming region about two light years across, or roughly half the distance between the Sun and Proxima Centauri, the Sun’s nearest stellar neighbour.
The Hubble Space Telescope captured this remarkable view of a hot young star at the center of the frame lighting up its parent nebula. Image: NASA/ESA