It turns out even NASA is trying to get into the whole Star Wars thing. They recently posted an article saying the Hubble Space Telescope has photographed “what looks like a cosmic, double-bladed lightsaber.”
In their post, they state that just as Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens hits the cinema screens, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image, the center of which is “partly obscured by a dark, Jedi-like cloak of dust,” showing a newborn star shooting out twin jets into space.
— NASA (@NASA) December 17, 2015
Admittedly, in the artist’s concept at the top of this article, with the “Jedi-like cloak of dust” removed, it does look pretty darn impressive.
John Grunsfeld, an astronaut and associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission directorate, says in the NASA article that science fiction has always inspired generations of scientists and engineers, saying the Star Wars series is no exception.
“There is no stronger case for the motivational power of real science than the discoveries that come from the Hubble Space Telescope as it unravels the mysteries of the universe.”
However, unlike in the Star Wars films, their discovery, known as HH 24, is not in a galaxy “far, far away” but is much closer to home. In fact, it is within our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The newborn star is located in a birthing ground for new stars known as the Orion B molecular cloud complex and is a mere 1,350 light-years away from Earth.
NASA’s article goes on to explain the fascinating discovery in more detail, liberally sprinkling Star Wars references all the way. However, they do mention that just to the right of the “cloaked star,” there are a couple of bright points from young stars showing through the haze with their own faint lightsabers.
NASA didn’t stop the Star Wars references with its article about the lightsabers, it seems, as a look at their Twitter account reveals their new hiring techniques as they attempt to attract new “sky walkers” to join the “astronaut alliance.” It seems you too can become an astronaut if the Force is strong in you.
However, according to CNN, while NASA is to be applauded for its social media strategy, they may have taken the Star Wars references a tad too far, saying the Star Wars link is more artistic license than actual hard science. They reckon the image looks absolutely nothing like a lightsaber, but they do admit NASA’s Star Wars peppered article is pretty amusing.
— Blankscientist (@blankscientist) December 17, 2015
Social media, including Twitter, has come to life with many funny references to NASA and its attempts to relate to the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie.
— Jazz Purist (@Pazzjurist) December 17, 2015
Among other comments, Facebook user Isobelle Fox posted, “Dear NASA. We like science. We like information. We don’t have to be sold on it using pop culture references.”
NASA replied, with Albert Cofrin, reportedly an engineer at NASA, responding, “For a majority of the population that is not the case, but thanks for your input.”
Find out more about this amazing discovery in the NASA video included below titled, in true Star Wars form, “Celestial Lightsabers.”
[Photo artist’s impression via NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)]