Scientists have investigated the causes of the nebula NGC 3132

(ORDO NEWS) — About 2,500 years ago, the star ejected most of its gas, forming the beautiful South Annular Nebula NGC 3132, chosen as one of the objects of observation for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

A team of astronomers used images taken by the telescope to recreate a picture of the death of this star.

Professor Orsola de Marco, the paper’s lead author, said the star was nearly three times the size of the Sun and was about 500 million years old.

The white dwarf that remains after it is about the size of the Earth, and its mass is half that of the Sun.

“We were surprised to find evidence of two or three companion stars that likely hastened her demise, as well as another star, an ‘innocent bystander’, that became involved in the interaction,” Professor de Marco said.

The study was based on JWST images supplemented by data from the Very Large Telescope in Chile, the San Pedro de Martir telescope in Mexico, and the Gaia and Hubble space telescopes.

Astronomers have developed mid-infrared imaging theories and models to reconstruct the death of a star. At the center of the nebula shines a super-hot star, a white dwarf that has burned all of its hydrogen.

“Now this star is small and hot, but surrounded by cold dust,” said Joel Kastner, a member of the research team.

“We think that this gas and dust that we see scattered around must have come from this one star, but they were thrown in very specific directions by companion stars.”

There are also a number of spiral structures radiating from the center. These concentric arcs could have been created when one of the companions orbited the central star as it lost mass.

Looking at the 3D reconstruction, the team also saw pairs of protrusions that can form when astronomical objects eject jets.

They are unstable and diverge in different directions, which may imply the interaction of a triple star in the center.

“We first hypothesized the possibility of a close companion due to the dust disk around the central star, a distant companion that created the arcs, and an ultra-distant companion that you can see in the image.

As soon as we saw the jets, we realized that there must be another star or even two in the center, so we believe that there are one or two very close companions, another at an average distance and one very far away.

If this is true, then four or even five objects are involved in this random death, ”said Professor de Marco.


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