How LRLL 54361 flashes like a strobe light

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has made a time-lapse movie of protostar LRLL 54361 as it sends flashes of light through the surrounding nebula.

This image shows:

On the left, an infrared image from the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope shows LRLL 54361 inside the star-forming region IC 348 located 950 light-years away. The Spitzer Space Telescope discovered the unusual flashing protostar here.

In the centre: This Hubble image resolves the detailed structure around the protostar, consisting of two cavities that are traced by light scattered off their edges above and below a dusty disk. The cavities were likely blown out of the surrounding natal envelope of dust and gas by an outflow launched near the central object.

On the right: This artist’s impression represents scientists’ theory for how and why the protostar gives off these regular flashes of light. Astronomers propose that the flashes are due to material in a circumstellar disk suddenly being dumped onto the growing stars and unleashing a blast of radiation each time the stars get close to each other in their orbit.


NASA, ESA, J. Muzerolle (STScI), E. Furlan (NOAO, Caltech), and R. Hurt (Caltech)

About the Image

Release date:7 February 2013, 19:00
Related releases:heic1303
Size:3018 x 1841 px

About the Object

Name:IC 348, LRLL 54361
Type:Milky Way : Star : Evolutionary Stage : Protostar
Distance:950 light years

Image Formats

Large JPEG
740.1 KB
Screensize JPEG
125.0 KB


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