The Hubble Space Telescope continues to stay busy taking beautiful images of distant cosmos. And now it may have discovered “Star Trek’s” Doomsday Machine.
From the 1967 episode of the same name, this new image is not actually of that fictional planet-destroyer created by writer Norman Spinrad, but instead is a protostar — that is, a star that is in the process of being formed.
It is known in the astronomy community as IRAS 20324+4057, and while it might look like a rather small size, it’s actually 6 trillion miles long — about the length of a light year. That tail, which is coming off as about blue in color, is being blown that way from solar winds created by the Cygnus OB2 constellation.
When it does finally form, it’s not clear if it would be a huge star — 10 times that of our sun — or if the solar winds might make it a much smaller star, which could end up smaller than our own sun. Either way, the formation itself may have already happened. As Trelane discovered in “The Squire of Gothos,” it takes a bit of time for light to travel distances — and that includes images. This particular image is a snapshot of what was happening 4,500 years ago, when the great pyramids were being built.
The protostar was first discovered in 2006, and pictures of it are just now being released.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990, and is expected to continue operating through 2014, and possibly to 2020. It is set to be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018, named after NASA’s second administrator who helped lead the Apollo missions to the moon.
About the Author
Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for 1701News, Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus, and a co-founder of 1701News. He lives in Tampa, Fla.