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The Hubble Space Telescope continues to reveal various stunning and intricate treasures that reside within the nearby, intense star-forming region known as the Great Nebula in Orion. One such jewel is the bow shock around the very young star, LL Ori, featured in this month's Hubble Heritage image.

What is a bow shock?

Named for the crescent-shaped wave made by a ship as it moves through water, a bow shock can be created in space when two streams of gas collide. LL Ori emits a vigorous solar wind, a stream of charged particles moving rapidly outward from the star. Our own Sun has a less energetic version of this wind that is responsible for auroral displays on the Earth.

The material in the fast wind from LL Ori collides with slow-moving gas evaporating, away from the center of the Orion Nebula, which is located to the lower right in this Heritage image. The surface where the two winds collide is the crescent-shaped bow shock seen in the image.

Links to other related HST Press Releases:

- The Orion Nebula
- 'Survivor' Planets

Link to Science Papers:

- 2000 Astronomical Journal science paper by Bally, O'Dell, and McCaughrean

More Bow Shocks in Astronomy:

- BZ Cam Bow Shock
- Gemini Images Shock Near Galactic Center
- Bow shock in a galaxy cluster


Condensation cloud around
a supersonic F-18 jet

Non-Astronomy Shock- Related Phenenoma:


- US Department of Defense News article
- Video of supersonic F-18 jet

- A detailed explanation of the Prandtl-Glauert Singularity