US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — You have never seen such stars before.
New research reveals the exciting final stages of star life. Using recent observations of two distant nebulae collected in the form of several wavelengths by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a group of astronomers made several new discoveries about what stars go through when they die.
“These new multi-wavelength Hubble observations provide by far the most complete picture of these spectacular nebulae,” said Joel Kastner of the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, lead author of a new article published in Galaxies earlier this week.
“When I downloaded the images, I felt like a kid in a candy store,” he added.
Kastner’s team found that the nebulae decayed into a surprisingly short amount of time. They also suspect that each core of the nebula once contained two stars in close dance with each other, a process that creates huge dust clouds, as seen in Hubble’s pictures.
When they rotate around each other, one star loses mass, which is absorbed by the other. Over time, researchers speculate that this could lead to a star with a lower mass being eaten by its energy twin, a process that could ultimately lead to the appearance of a butterfly.
“The alleged satellites, stars in NGC 6302 and NGC 7027, were not directly detected because they were nearby or, perhaps, were already absorbed by larger red giant stars, a type of star that is hundreds of thousands of times brighter than the Sun,” said Bruce Balik, a professor at the University of Washington at Seattle and co-author of a new study.
“The fusion of stars seems to be the best and easiest explanation of the features observed in the most active and symmetrical planetary nebulae,” Balik added. “This is a powerful unifying concept, so far without competitors.”
In the case of the Butterfly nebula, researchers suspect that the star spun “like a spinning top that is about to fall,” ejecting gas in unstable forms. The Oyster Nebula, in contrast, showed that something “had recently exploded in the very center, creating a new clover leaf pattern”.
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