May 22, 2024

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Hubble image may contain evidence of stellar cannibalism in a dumbbell-shaped nebula

Hubble image may contain evidence of stellar cannibalism in a dumbbell-shaped nebula

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The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a stunning new image of the glowing gas emanating from a dying star, which in this case resembles a “cosmic dumbbell.”

The image may also include evidence that the star devoured another star, in a form of stellar cannibalism, before collapsing.

NASA released an image of the Little Dumbbell Nebula, also known as Messier 76 or M76, to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the space observatory's launch on April 24, 1990.

Located 3,400 light-years away in the constellation Perseus, the nebula is an expanding envelope of gas expelled by a dying red giant star. The cosmic body is known as a planetary nebula, but it has nothing to do with the planets.

Planetary nebulae usually have a round structure and were so named because they initially resembled the disks from which planets are formed when French astronomer Charles Messier first discovered one in 1764. Pierre Mischin discovered the Little Dumbbell Nebula in 1780, taking astronomers for the first time. Once a look at the planetary nebula. Detailed view of it in 1891. The photonic nebula has become a favorite among professional and amateur astronomers ever since because of its unique shape.

If researchers confirm that the nebula holds evidence of a case of cosmic cannibalism, it could provide evidence of the existence of the red giant's long-time companion.

The Little Dumbbell Nebula contains a ring that from our perspective looks like a central bar connecting two lobes on either side of the ring. Before the aging red giant star collapsed, it released a ring of gas and dust. Hence, the ring was likely formed by a companion star, astronomers believe, and the ring of gas and dust eventually formed a thick disk.

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The companion star, which was in orbit around the red giant, cannot be seen in the Hubble image. Astronomers believe that the red giant star swallowed its companion, and by studying the ring, they can extract “forensic evidence” of this cannibalistic cosmic act, according to the American “space” website. NASA launch.

Since its collapse, the red giant star has turned into a dead stellar remnant known as an ultra-dense white dwarf star. The white dwarf has a temperature of 250,000°F (138,871°C), making it 24 times hotter than the surface of our Sun and one of the hottest white dwarf stars known.

A white dwarf is the bright white light at the center of the nebula in the Hubble image.

Meanwhile, the two lobes visible in the image represent hot gas seeping out and being carried with a tornado-like force as material is released from the dying star, propelling it through space at 2 million miles per hour. The stellar wind from the star collides with cooler, slower-moving gas, which the star initially expelled very early in its life, and which can be seen in the lobes.

Ultraviolet radiation from the burning star causes gases to glow in different colors representing different elements, such as red for nitrogen and blue for oxygen.

Astronomers estimate that within 15,000 years, the nebula will disappear from the night sky as it continues to expand and become darker.

The Little Dumbbell Nebula is just one of 53,000 astronomical objects that Hubble has observed over 34 years, and to date, the telescope has made 1.6 million observations. Astronomers around the world rely on the telescope and its growing database to make new discoveries.

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“The Space Telescope is the most scientifically productive space astrophysics mission in NASA history,” according to a NASA statement.

Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope work as a complement to each other, combining observations across different wavelengths of light to cast a clearer, deeper look at the universe as astronomers seek to unravel mysteries about supernovas, distant galaxies, exoplanets and other celestial anomalies.