NASA Hubble telescope eyes cosmic 'bat shadow' in Serpens Nebula

Although shadow-casting discs are common around young stars, the combination of an edge-on viewing angle and the surrounding nebula is rare. "Using the shape and color of the shadow, they can determine the size and composition of dust grains in the disc", officials added in the release.

The Bat Shadow hints at what the Solar System looked like billions of years ago, explained Klaus Pontoppidan of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

NASA's Hubble telescope has sent back some stunning images of eye-catching sights in the sky, but shadows aren't usually a highlight of the eye candy it produces. While the disk of debris is too tiny to be seen even by Hubble, its shadow is projected upon the cloud in which it was born. The nebula envelops hundreds of young stars, many of which could also be in the process of forming planets in a protoplanetary disc. While most of the shadow is completely opaque, scientists can look for color differences along its edges, where some light gets through. It's material like this that eventually coalesces to form planets, moons, and other objects like we see in our own Solar System.

Just in time for Halloween, the new image shows a "striking shadow" in Serpens Nebula, which is about 1,300 light-years from Earth, European Space Agency officials said in a statement.

You can see the two black streaks stretching from either side of a star called HBC 672, which is lighting up the surrounding gas cloud (or nebula).

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The Serpens Nebula, located in the tail of the Serpent (Serpens Cauda) about 1300 light-years away, is a reflection nebula that owes most of its sheen to the light emitted by stars like HBC 672 -?a young star nestled in its dusty folds.

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