Guillermo Haro: The Wonders He Saw Through the Tonantzintla Schmidt Telescope

Wednesday’s Google Doodle pays well-deserved homage to astronomer Guillermo Haro, the first Mexican elected to the Royal Astronomical Society. The day marks what would have been his 105th birthday — and what better way to celebrate than by looking at some of the cosmic phenomena he found?

Much of Haro’s most famous work was carried out using the Tonantzintla Schmidt telescope at the observatory in Puebla, Mexico, during the mid-20th century. In addition to spotting blue stars, flare stars, and supernovae, Haro found gaseous jets around newly born stars later called Herbig-Haro objects. In the 1940s, another astronomer, George Herbig, independently found these objects as well, hence the shared name.


public domain via wikimedia commons

Herbig-Haro objects are found in star-forming regions but can only be seen for a few thousand years. While we don’t have images of what Haro saw, NASA and ESA telescopes have taken many snapshots of Herbig-Haro (HH) objects, and they’re nothing short of spectacular.

See also: “How Guillermo Haro’s ‘Flare Stars’ Twinkle in the Night Sky”

Here’s HH 47, for example. Located just 1,500 light-years away, this stellar jet is about 4.83 trillion kilometers long.

HH 47

J. Morse/STScI, and NASA/ESA

Only about 1,000 light-years from Earth, HH 32 gives HH 47 some serious competition in the race for which can be more breathtaking. In this image, taken by Hubble, one can clearly see blue and green emissions on display. It’s hard to fathom just how far away these objects are from the photos, but rest assured, they are very, very, very, very far.

HH 32

NASA/ESA/The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

Of course, it’s important to include the place where all of these incredible discoveries took place. Here’s a recent picture of the Tonantzintla Observatory:

In addition to discovering HH objects, Haro first peered into the flare stars around the Orion nebula 1,344 light-years from Earth. These are dwarf stars that are prone to random bursts of brightness and radiation, thus their name — “flare.”

Today, raise a telescope (that’s a thing, right?) to one of the greats or just gaze upon his awesome accomplishments.

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