The star at the center of the frame is a young star – a variable star – named V633 Cassiopeiae. In this photo from the Hubble Space Telescope, it appears as if the star just sneezed. In fact, if you could watch over a timescale of many thousands of years, you’d find that the star is having a sneezing fit. It’s firing off rapid releases of super-hot, super-fast gas.
The star’s “sneezes” – launched due to its magnetic fields – can contain as much mass as Earth. They move at hundreds of kilometers/miles per second into nearby clouds of gas. Shock waves form, such as the U-shape below this star. As the waves crash outwards, they can be seen moving across human timescales of years.
Soon, this star will stop sneezing, and mature to become a star like our sun.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.