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 Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems
08.12.2016 | Nagoya Institute of Technology

nachricht Will Earth still exist 5 billion years from now?
08.12.2016 | KU Leuven

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>