Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MU Scientist Discovers 'Firework' Display in Helix Nebula

22.07.2009
A star does not die without getting noticed and may even leave the universe with "fireworks."

At the end of its life cycle, a star begins to collapse in the middle and throws new material into space. The new material eventually becomes incorporated into new planets and life. Now, a University of Missouri professor identified new features in the material that is being ejected from the dying star Helix Nebula.

A high-resolution near-infrared image revealed new information about the knots, or the structures that are formed from the emissions of the nebula. In the Helix Nebula, the knots often appear to be comet-shaped. The shape of the tails can vary from the inner edge to the outer ring of the nebula.

"The knots in the Helix Nebula have been well known for 50 years," said Angela Speck, associate professor of astrophysics in the College of Arts and Science. "For the first time, technology allowed us to take a high-resolution infrared image that showed us tens of thousands of previously unseen comet-shaped knots that look like a massive fireworks display in space."

The Helix Nebula is a planetary nebula, and also is one of the closest nebulae to Earth. The process of developing a nebula occurs slowly over a period of 100,000 to 1,000,000 years. The new image was taken with the infrared camera on the Japanese Subaru Telescope in Hawaii and is one of the highest resolution images in the infrared wavelength with such a wide coverage of the Helix Nebula.

"Originally, we thought the hydrogen molecules ejected from a dying star did not survive very long because of strong ultraviolet light," Speck said. "We have found that the dust clouds prevent light from reaching and destroying the molecules. When the light can't come into the dusty clumps in the nebula, the molecules can't die. The hydrogen molecules can survive as long as they remain in the knots."

Astronomers estimate that that the Helix Nebula may have as many as 40,000 knots with a total mass that might be equal to 30,000 Earths. The steady evaporation of gas from the knots on the Helix Nebula causes the comet-like shape. The origin of the knots is unknown, and scientists have competing hypothesis about why the comet-shaped knots form.

"This new image provides us a better understanding of the process that creates the comet-shaped knots and helps us determine what really is going on," Speck said. "Based on our observations, we can't attribute the cause of these knots to any one mechanism. In actuality, multiple mechanism work together to create the knots."

The study, "A ‘Firework' of H2 Knots in the Planetary Nebula NGC 7293 (The Helix Nebula)," will be published in The Astrophysical Journal in August.

Kelsey Jackson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.missouri.edu

Further reports about: Firework Helix Helix Nebula comet-shaped knots dying star nebula planetary nebula

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>