Bipolar outflow

A bipolar outflow comprises two continuous flows of gas from the poles of a star. Bipolar outflows may be associated with protostars (young, forming stars), or with evolved post-AGB stars (often in the form of bipolar nebulae).

Boomerang HST big
The Boomerang Nebula is an excellent example of a bipolar outflow. Image credit: NASA, STScI.


In the case of a young star, the bipolar outflow is driven by a dense, collimated jet.[1] These astrophysical jets are narrower than the outflow and very difficult to observe directly. However, supersonic shock fronts along the jet heat the gas in and around the jet to thousands of degrees. These pockets of hot gas radiate at infrared wavelengths and thus can be detected with telescopes like the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT). They often appear as discrete knots or arcs along the beam of the jet. They are usually called molecular bow shocks, since the knots are usually curved like the bow wave at the front of a ship.


Typically, molecular bow shocks are observed in ro-vibrational emission from hot molecular hydrogen. These objects are known as molecular hydrogen emission-line objects, or MHOs.

Bipolar outflows are usually observed in emission from warm carbon monoxide molecules with millimeter-wave telescopes like the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, though other trace molecules can be used. Bipolar outflows are often found in dense, dark clouds. They tend to be associated with the very youngest stars (ages less than 10,000 years), and are closely related to the molecular bow shocks. Indeed, the bow shocks are thought to sweep up or "entrain" dense gas from the surrounding cloud to form the bipolar outflow.[2]

Jets from more evolved young stars - T Tauri stars - produce similar bow shocks, though these are visible at optical wavelengths and are called Herbig–Haro objects (HH objects). T Tauri stars are usually found in less dense environments. The absence of surrounding gas and dust means that HH objects are less effective at entraining molecular gas. Consequently, they are less likely to be associated with visible bipolar outflows.

The presence of a bipolar outflow shows that the central star is still accumulating material from the surrounding cloud via an accretion disk.

Bipolar outflows are also ejected from evolved stars, such as proto-planetary nebulae, planetary nebulae, and post-AGB stars. Direct imaging of proto-planetary nebulae and planetary nebulae has shown the presence of outflows ejected by these systems.[1][2] Large spectroscopic radial velocity monitoring campaigns have revealed the presence of high-velocity outflows or jets from post-AGB stars.[3][4][5] The origin of these jets is the presence of a binary companion, where mass-transfer and accretion onto one of the stars leads to the creation of an accretion disk, from which matter is ejected. The presence of a magnetic field causes the eventual ejection and collimation of the matter, forming a bipolar outflow or jet.

In both cases, bipolar outflows consist largely of molecular gas. They can travel at tens or possibly even hundreds of kilometers per second, and in the case of young stars extend over a parsec in length.

Galactic outflow

Massive galactic molecular outflows may have the physical conditions such as high gas densities to form stars. This star-formation mode could contribute to the morphological evolution of galaxies.[6]

DR 21-col
Infrared image of a bipolar outflow. The outflow is driven by a massive young star that was first identified as a radio source and catalogued "DR 21". The outflow itself is known as the DR21 outflow, or MHO 898/899. Image credit: Chris Davis, UKIRT/Joint Astronomy Centre

See also


  1. ^ Sahai, R.; Zijlstra, A.; S�nchez Contreras, C.; Morris, M. (2003-03-01). "An Icy, Bipolar Proto-Planetary Nebula with Knotty Jets: IRAS 22036+5306". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 586: L81–L85. doi:10.1086/374582. ISSN 0004-637X. replacement character in |last3= at position 2 (help)
  2. ^ Livio, Mario (2000). "Jets in Planetary Nebulae". 199: 243.
  3. ^ Gorlova, N.; Van Winckel, H.; Jorissen, A. (2012-01-01). "Mass Transfer in Two Post-AGB Binaries with Dusty Disks". Open Astronomy. 21 (1–2). doi:10.1515/astro-2017-0371. ISSN 2543-6376.
  4. ^ Gorlova, N.; Van Winckel, H.; Ikonnikova, N. P.; Burlak, M. A.; Komissarova, G. V.; Jorissen, A.; Gielen, C.; Debosscher, J.; Degroote, P. (2015-06-12). "IRAS 19135+3937: an SRd variable as interacting binary surrounded by a circumbinary disc". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 451 (3): 2462–2478. doi:10.1093/mnras/stv1111. ISSN 1365-2966.
  5. ^ Bollen, Dylan; Van Winckel, Hans; Kamath, Devika (November 2017). "Jet creation in post-AGB binaries: the circum-companion accretion disk around BD+46°442". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 607: A60. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201731493. ISSN 0004-6361.
  6. ^ Maiolino, R.; Russell, H. R.; Fabian, A. C.; et al. (2017). "Star formation inside a galactic outflow". Nature. 544 (7649): 202–206. doi:10.1038/nature21677. ISSN 0028-0836.
  1. ^ Reipurth B., Bally J. (2001), "Herbig–Haro flows: probes of early stellar evolution", Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, vol. 39, p. 403-455
  2. ^ Davis C. J., Eisloeffel J. (1995), "Near-infrared imaging in H2 of molecular (CO) outflows from young stars", Astronomy and Astrophysics, vol. 300, p. 851-869.
  3. ^ Kwok S. (2000), The origin and evolution of Planetary Nebulae, Cambridge Astrophysics Series, Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ Chen Z., Frank A., Blackman E. G., Nordhaus J. and Carroll-Nellenback J., (2017), "Mass Transfer and Disc Formation in AGB Binary systems", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society,

External links


Blitzars are a hypothetical type of astronomical object in which a spinning pulsar rapidly collapses into a black hole. They are proposed as an explanation for fast radio bursts (FRBs). The idea was proposed in 2013 by Heino Falcke and Luciano Rezzolla.

Bright giant

The luminosity class II in the Yerkes spectral classification is given to bright giants. These are stars which straddle the boundary between ordinary giants and supergiants, based on the appearance of their spectra.

CN star

A CN star is a star with strong cyanogen bands in its spectrum. Cyanogen is a simple molecule of one carbon atom and one nitrogen atom, with absorption bands around 388.9 and 421.6 nm. This group of stars was first noticed by Nancy G. Roman who called them 4150 stars.

HL Tauri

HL Tauri (abbreviated HL Tau) is a very young T Tauri star in the constellation Taurus, approximately 450 light-years (140 pc) from Earth in the Taurus Molecular Cloud. The luminosity and effective temperature of HL Tauri imply that its age is less than 100,000 years. At apparent magnitude 15.1, it is too faint to be seen with the unaided eye. It is surrounded by a protoplanetary disk marked by dark bands visible in submillimeter radiation that may indicate a number of planets in the process of formation. It is accompanied by the Herbig–Haro object HH 150, a jet of gas emitted along the rotational axis of the disk that is colliding with nearby interstellar dust and gas.

Helium-weak star

Helium-weak stars are chemically peculiar stars which have a weak helium lines for their spectral type. Their helium lines place them in a later (ie. cooler) spectral type then their hydrogen lines.

Lambda Boötis star

A Lambda Boötis star is a type of peculiar star which has an unusually low abundance of iron peak elements in its surface layers. One possible explanation for this is that it is the result of accretion of metal-poor gas from a circumstellar disc, and a second possibility is the accretion of material from a hot Jupiter suffering from mass loss. The prototype is Lambda Boötis.

Lead star

A lead star is a low-metallicity star with an overabundance of lead and bismuth as compared to other products of the S-process.

List of hottest stars

This is a list of hottest stars so far discovered (excluding degenerate stars), arranged by decreasing temperature. The stars with temperatures higher than 60,000 K are included.

OB star

OB stars are hot, massive stars of spectral types O or early-type B that form in loosely organized groups called OB associations. They are short lived, and thus do not move very far from where they formed within their life. During their lifetime, they will emit much ultraviolet radiation. This radiation rapidly ionizes the surrounding interstellar gas of the giant molecular cloud, forming an H II region or Strömgren sphere.

In lists of spectra the "spectrum of OB" refers to "unknown, but belonging to an OB association so thus of early type".


Outflow may refer to:

Capital outflow, the capital leaving a particular economy

Bipolar outflow, in astronomy, two continuous flows of gas from the poles of a star

Outflow (hydrology), the discharge of a lake or other reservoir system

Outflow (meteorology), air that flows outwards from a thunderstorm

Outflow boundary, in atmospheric science, separating thunderstorm-cooled air from the surrounding air

Photometric-standard star

Photometric-standard stars are a series of stars that have had their light output in various passbands of photometric system measured very carefully. Other objects can be observed using CCD cameras or photoelectric photometers connected to a telescope, and the flux, or amount of light received, can be compared to a photometric-standard star to determine the exact brightness, or stellar magnitude, of the object.A current set of photometric-standard stars for UBVRI photometry was published by Arlo U. Landolt in 1992 in the Astronomical Journal.

Protoplanetary nebula

A protoplanetary nebula or preplanetary nebula (Sahai, Sánchez Contreras & Morris 2005) (PPN) is an astronomical object which is at the short-lived episode during a star's rapid evolution between the late asymptotic giant branch (LAGB) phase and the subsequent planetary nebula (PN) phase. A PPN emits strongly in infrared radiation, and is a kind of reflection nebula. It is the second-from-the-last high-luminosity evolution phase in the life cycle of intermediate-mass stars (1–8 M☉). (Kastner 2005)

Q star

A Q-Star, also known as a grey hole, is a hypothetical type of a compact, heavy neutron star with an exotic state of matter. The Q stands for a conserved particle number. A Q-Star may be mistaken for a stellar black hole.


Sh2-297 (also known as Sharpless 297) is an emission nebula in the constellation Canis Major.

The region was catalogued in 1959 in the extended seconded edition of the Sharpless catalogue. This area is part of the Canis Major OB1 Association, and is a very active area of new star formation.Studies in 1988 found that the bright star illuminating the nebula was 8th magnitude HD 53623 / HIP 34178 with spectral class B1II/III. Later in 2004 it was shown that there was embedded a cold but massive Young Stellar Object or YSO within Sh2-297 near the edge of one of the dark rifts. This object has been observed in the far-infrared, but it is so deeply embedded in an interstellar cloud that it is undetectable in shorter wavelength observations such as the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), leading it to be originally named "Unidentified young stellar object 1" or UYSO-1. It was further revealed that this unseen stellar source produces a carbon monoxide (CO) bipolar outflow with a total mass of 5.4 M☉ solar masses, while the surrounding extended envelope weighs 30 M☉–40 M☉. Some 96 other YSO's have been discovered to be part of Sh-297, having a mean age of one million years and range in masses between 0.3 M☉ and 2.0 M☉. Many variable stars are also assigned with this nebula complex, including the three brightest: MW Ori, TT Ori and V559 Ori.

Distance is estimated between 1.0 and 1.4 kpc. (3,300–4,600 ly.), averaging 1.2 kpc. or 3,900 ly.

Sher 25

Sher 25 is a blue supergiant star in the constellation Carina, located approximately 25,000 light years from the Sun in the H II region NGC 3603 of the Milky Way. It is a spectral type B1Iab star with an apparent magnitude of 12.2. Its initial main sequence mass is calculated at 60 times the mass of our Sun, but a star of this type will have already lost a substantial fraction of that mass. It is unclear whether Sher 25 has been through a red supergiant phase or has just evolved from the main sequence, so the current mass is very uncertain.The name derives from the original cataloguing of stars in NGC 3603 by David Sher. This catalogue entry is more properly referred to as NGC 3603 Sher 25 to distinguish it from stars numbered 25 by Sher in other clusters. The same star was numbered 13 by Melnick, Tapia, and Terlevich (NGC 3603 MTT 13) and 5 in a Hubble Space Telescope survey by Moffat, Drissen, and Shara (NGC 3603 MDS 5).

It is speculated that Sher 25 is near the point of going supernova, as it has recently thrown off matter in a pattern similar to that of supernova 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud, with a circumstellar ring and bipolar outflow filaments.Regular variations in the doppler shift of the star's spectral lines with a period of a few days have suggested orbital motion about a companion star, but pulsations are a more likely explanation.

Starfield (astronomy)

A starfield refers to a set of stars visible in an arbitrarily-sized field of view, usually in the context of some region of interest within the celestial sphere. For example: the starfield surrounding the stars Betelgeuse and Rigel could be defined as encompassing some or all of the Orion constellation.

Stellar atmosphere

The stellar atmosphere is the outer region of the volume of a star, lying above the stellar core, radiation zone and convection zone.

Yellow giant

A yellow giant is a luminous giant star of low or intermediate mass (roughly 0.5–11 solar masses (M)) in a late phase of its stellar evolution. The outer atmosphere is inflated and tenuous, making the radius large and the surface temperature as low as 5,200-7500 K. The appearance of the yellow giant is from white to yellow, including the spectral types F and G. About 10.6 percent of all giant stars are yellow giants.

Star systems
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