Capturing the Aftermath of a Star Collision 1,900 Years Ago

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Credit ALMA/J. Bally/H. Drass et al.

About 1,900 years ago and 1,350 light years away, stars in a giant gas cloud behind the Orion constellation collided, ejecting two other young stars.

With a telescope, the blast would have been visible from Earth about 500 years ago. Now, with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, the most powerful telescope on Earth, astronomers have captured pictures of the explosion.

According to John Bally, who published a study of the event in The Astrophysical Journal, the debris is still flying and will gradually fade from view. What will remain are the ejected stars — pushed hundreds of light years away from Orion, runaways born in a burst of cosmic fireworks.

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