Triple Stellar Treat

This observation captures the variable star HP Tau, which lies more than 550 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. This image was created using data from the Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. HP Tau is a T Tauri star, a young and chaotic type of star that is settling into a more sedate phase of stellar life known as the main sequence. The length of time that a star spends on the main sequence will depend on its mass. Our Sun, for example, is about halfway through its roughly 10-billion-year main-sequence lifetime.

HP Tau is part of a triple star system — the three separate stars are visible at the center of this image — surrounded by a large arcing reflection nebula. These nebulae, as the name suggests, reflect the light from nearby stars rather than glowing like emission nebulae elsewhere in the Universe.

Credit:

KPNO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Massey
Image processing: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Zamani (NSF’s NOIRLab) & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab)

 

About the Image

Id:iotw2301a
Type:Observation
Release date:Jan. 4, 2023, noon
Size:4999 x 2825 px

About the Object

Name:HP Tau
Distance:550 light years
Constellation:Taurus
Category:Stars

Image Formats

Large JPEGLarge JPEG
2.1 MB
Screensize JPEGScreensize JPEG
107.3 KB

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Coordinates

Position (RA):4 35 55.01
Position (Dec):22° 53' 55.74"
Field of view:20.83 x 11.77 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 89.8° left of vertical


Colors & filters

BandWave-lengthTele-scope
Optical
G
475 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I
Optical
R
651 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I
Optical
I
805 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I