Hubble’s sharpest view of the Orion Nebula, part of the Orion region
This dramatic image offers a peek inside a 'cavern' of dust and gas where thousands of stars are forming. The image, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, represents the sharpest view ever taken of this region, called the Orion Nebula. More than 3000 stars of various sizes appear in this image. Some of them have never been seen in visible light. The Orion Nebula is 1500 light-years away, the nearest star-forming region to Earth. Astronomers used 520 Hubble images, taken in five colours, to make this picture. They also added ground-based photos to fill out the nebula. The ACS mosaic covers approximately the apparent angular size of the full Moon. Thes observations were taken between 2004 and 2005. Hubble Space Telescope Orion T

The gorgeous images produced by the Hubble space telescope have, for those of us without an advanced astronomy degree been a bit like looking at art in a museum: beautiful, but not particularly dynamic. A newly created set of movies is changing that.

By chronologically arranging images produced by Hubble, astronomers have been able to construct a sort of film reel illustrating the birth of stars. When a star bursts into existence it blasts jets of luminous gas into space at supersonic speeds, providing a vivid image for astronomers to study.

An international team of scientists led by astronomer Patrick Hartigan of Rice University in Houston compiled images of three stars, taken over a 14 year period, and used computer software to weave them together into short movies that demonstrate how the gas jets' structures eventually yield a star. Astronomers believe that the movies will offer clues about what our sun looked like when it formed some 4.5 billion years ago.

Taken together, our results paint a picture of jets as remarkably diverse objects that undergo highly structured interactions between material within the outflow and between the jet and the surrounding gas, Hartigan said in a NASA statement. This contrasts with the bulk of the existing simulations which depict jets as smooth systems.

Here are some of the incredible movies: