July 5, 2020

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Hubble telescope spies cosmic ‘bat’ flapping its wings in the depths of space (VIDEO)

The Hubble telescope has peered deep into space and spotted shadows reaching out from a star and flickering, like the enormous wings of a gigantic cosmic bat. Mysteriously the cause of the “flapping” remains unconfirmed.

The spectacular celestial show is unfolding in a vast cloud of gas and dust 1,400 light-years away. The “bat’s wings” are caused a disc of dust and gas around a young star called HBC 672.

Being around two million years old, the star is only a fledgling in astronomical terms, as most stars have been around for between one billion and 10 billion years.

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Hubble photographed the stunning “Bat Shadow” in 2018 and the phenomenon got even more impressive this week when fresh research revealed the extraordinary flapping movement.

The shadow is caused a disc of gas that surrounds the young star and astronomers speculate that the flapping motion is caused a planet tugging on the disc and knocking it off-kilter.

“The shadow moves. It’s flapping like the wings of a bird!” said astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan of the Space Telescope Science Institute, who is the lead author of the new study.

The scientists believe that the disc is roughly saddle-shaped, with two peaks and two dips. The planet believed to be causing the phenomenon has an orbit that’s inclined to the disk’s plane, which explains the flickering of the “wings”. 

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“If there were just a simple bump in the disk, we’d expect both sides of the shadow to tilt in opposite directions, like airplane wings during a turn,” explained Colette Salyk, another member of the research team.

If the “flapping” isn’t caused a planet the scientists already have a back-up theory, suggesting that it’s a smaller stellar companion which is orbiting outside the plane of the disc.

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