The Serpens Nebula is a stellar nursery almost 1,300 light-years away. The Hubble Space Telescope‘s near-infrared vision captured the shadow cast by a fledgling star’s brilliant light being blocked by is planet-forming disk. The Sun-like star known as HBC 672 is surrounded by a debris ring of dust, rock, and ice—a disk that is too small and too distant to be seen, even by Hubble. But like a little fly that wanders into the beam of a flashlight shining on a wall, its shadow is projected large upon the cloud in which it was born. In this Hubble image, that feature—nicknamed the “Bat Shadow”—spans approximately 200 times the length of our solar system. It is visible in the upper right portion of the picture.
Image Credit: NASA / ESA / STScI