install theme
A Beautiful End to a Star’s Life via NASA
Composite image of planetary nebula NGC 2392 - Image: X-ray: NASA/CXC/IAA-CSIC/N. Ruiz et al; Optical: NASA/STScI

Stars like the Sun can become remarkably photogenic at the end of their life. A good example is NGC 2392, which is located about 4,200 light years from Earth. NGC 2392, nicknamed the “Eskimo Nebula,” is what astronomers call a planetary nebula. This designation, however, is deceiving because planetary nebulas actually have nothing to do with planets. The term is simply a historic relic since these objects looked like planetary disks to astronomers in earlier times looking through small optical telescopes.
Instead, planetary nebulas form when a star uses up all of the hydrogen in its core – an event our Sun will go through in about five billion years. When this happens, the star begins to cool and expand, increasing its radius by tens to hundreds of times its original size. Eventually, the outer layers of the star are carried away by a thick 50,000 kilometer per hour wind, leaving behind a hot core. This hot core has a surface temperature of about 50,000 C, and is ejecting its outer layers in a much faster wind traveling six million kilometers per hour. The radiation from the hot star and the interaction of its fast wind with the slower wind creates the complex and filamentary shell of a planetary nebula. Eventually the remnant star will collapse to form a white dwarf star.
Now days, astronomers using space-based telescopes are able to observe planetary nebulas such as NGC 2392 in ways their scientific ancestors probably could never imagine. This composite image of NGC 2392 contains X-ray data fromNASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in purple showing the location of million-degree gas near the center of the planetary nebula. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope show – colored red, green and blue – the intricate pattern of the outer layers of the star that have been ejected. The comet-shaped filaments form when the faster wind and radiation from the central star interact with cooler shells of dust and gas that were already ejected by the star.
The observations of NGC 2392 were part of a study of three planetary nebulas with hot gas in their center. The Chandra data show that NGC 2392 has unusually high levels of X-ray emission compared to the other two. This leads researchers to deduce that there is an unseen companion to the hot central star in NGC 2392. The interaction between a pair of binary stars could explain the elevated X-ray emission found there. Meanwhile, the fainter X-ray emission observed in the two other planetary nebulas in the sample – IC 418 and NGC 6826 – is likely produced by shock fronts (like sonic booms) in the wind from the central star.
A paper describing these results is available online here and was published in the April 10th, 2013 issue of The Astrophysical Journal. The first author is Nieves Ruiz of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC) in Granada, Spain, and the other authors are You-Hua Chu, and Robert Gruendl from the University of Illinois, Urbana; Martín Guerrero from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC) in Granada, Spain, and Ralf Jacob, Detlef Schönberner and Matthias Steffen from the Leibniz-Institut Für Astrophysik in Potsdam (AIP), Germany.

Learn more about planetary nebulae here.
Check out Chandra’s Flickr photoset here.

A Beautiful End to a Star’s Life via NASA

Composite image of planetary nebula NGC 2392 - Image: X-ray: NASA/CXC/IAA-CSIC/N. Ruiz et al; Optical: NASA/STScI

Stars like the Sun can become remarkably photogenic at the end of their life. A good example is NGC 2392, which is located about 4,200 light years from Earth. NGC 2392, nicknamed the “Eskimo Nebula,” is what astronomers call a planetary nebula. This designation, however, is deceiving because planetary nebulas actually have nothing to do with planets. The term is simply a historic relic since these objects looked like planetary disks to astronomers in earlier times looking through small optical telescopes.

Instead, planetary nebulas form when a star uses up all of the hydrogen in its core – an event our Sun will go through in about five billion years. When this happens, the star begins to cool and expand, increasing its radius by tens to hundreds of times its original size. Eventually, the outer layers of the star are carried away by a thick 50,000 kilometer per hour wind, leaving behind a hot core. This hot core has a surface temperature of about 50,000 C, and is ejecting its outer layers in a much faster wind traveling six million kilometers per hour. The radiation from the hot star and the interaction of its fast wind with the slower wind creates the complex and filamentary shell of a planetary nebula. Eventually the remnant star will collapse to form a white dwarf star.

Now days, astronomers using space-based telescopes are able to observe planetary nebulas such as NGC 2392 in ways their scientific ancestors probably could never imagine. This composite image of NGC 2392 contains X-ray data fromNASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in purple showing the location of million-degree gas near the center of the planetary nebula. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope show – colored red, green and blue – the intricate pattern of the outer layers of the star that have been ejected. The comet-shaped filaments form when the faster wind and radiation from the central star interact with cooler shells of dust and gas that were already ejected by the star.

The observations of NGC 2392 were part of a study of three planetary nebulas with hot gas in their center. The Chandra data show that NGC 2392 has unusually high levels of X-ray emission compared to the other two. This leads researchers to deduce that there is an unseen companion to the hot central star in NGC 2392. The interaction between a pair of binary stars could explain the elevated X-ray emission found there. Meanwhile, the fainter X-ray emission observed in the two other planetary nebulas in the sample – IC 418 and NGC 6826 – is likely produced by shock fronts (like sonic booms) in the wind from the central star.

A paper describing these results is available online here and was published in the April 10th, 2013 issue of The Astrophysical Journal. The first author is Nieves Ruiz of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC) in Granada, Spain, and the other authors are You-Hua Chu, and Robert Gruendl from the University of Illinois, Urbana; Martín Guerrero from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC) in Granada, Spain, and Ralf Jacob, Detlef Schönberner and Matthias Steffen from the Leibniz-Institut Für Astrophysik in Potsdam (AIP), Germany.

Learn more about planetary nebulae here.

Check out Chandra’s Flickr photoset here.

880 notes
comments powered by Disqus

880 notes


, #astronomy #astronomyfacts #science #star #ngc 2392 #planetary nebula
  1. myrtlebeachdreams reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  2. donharry reblogged this from erudito
  3. 5997mil reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  4. snogbbox reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  5. guitaruniverse reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  6. andgatherer reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  7. fuckafleshlight reblogged this from bastard666
  8. pinkiepieaddict reblogged this from starsaremymuse
  9. derpymuffins151 reblogged this from wewillbangokay
  10. sockfaerie reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  11. demolitur reblogged this from thesmallanomaly
  12. thesmallanomaly reblogged this from wolffeeder
  13. wearemadeofstarstuff479 reblogged this from neuronsandneutrons
  14. pretty--fucked reblogged this from n-a-s-a and added:
    mine svista is covering her 240 plastic panels with space shit today. she is very fussy also
  15. laikas-owner reblogged this from neuronsandneutrons
  16. neuronsandneutrons reblogged this from vanesa
  17. vanesa reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  18. theluoma reblogged this from n-a-s-a and added:
    I can’t help but wonder what things would be like if people exploded when they die. Funerals would be a lot more...
  19. mrskmnl reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  20. azpilicueta reblogged this from ofacelestialmind
  21. mvdvllvs reblogged this from solari-s
  22. solari-s reblogged this from ofacelestialmind
  23. osmium-tetroxyde reblogged this from cabinet-de-curiosites
  24. cabinet-de-curiosites reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  25. ofacelestialmind reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  26. wells-hg reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  27. kjhymn reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  28. samxham reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  29. jryanm reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  30. wewillbangokay reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  31. adolfglitter reblogged this from shisoup
  32. squishy-ass-witch reblogged this from thescienceofreality
  33. vulg4rinnocence reblogged this from sleepisgold
  34. sleepisgold reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  35. compulsif reblogged this from ends-at-the-nape
  36. kingofbeast187 reblogged this from ends-at-the-nape
^