Two white dwarfs shed outer layers of mass to form winding blue clouds of hot gas
Space news (October 16, 2015) – light-years away in the southern constellation Norma –
Firstdiscovered during modern times by noted astronomer Donald Menzel in 1922, planetary nebula PK 329-02.2 or Menzel 2 (Mz 2), is composed of a central star and companion suncocooned in stunning, hot clouds of glowing gas ejected in complex shapes that will fade into the cosmos over the next few thousands of years.
Astrophysicists believe the star at the upper right of the two centralstars shining brightly in this Hubble image is the main star of planetary nebula PK 329-02.2. The star just to the lower left of this central star astronomers believe is the companion sun, which is gravitationally tied to the main star.
Over tens of thousands of years, this pair of stars is expected to be cocooned in stunning clouds of hot, glowing gas. Swirling clouds forming a goodbye wave as the main star enters the final stages of its life cycle and starts to enjoy retirement as a white dwarf star.
You can discover more about the journey of the Hubble Space Telescope here.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Matej Novak Text credit: European Space Agency
Space news (August 14, 2015) – planetary nebula NGC 6565; 6 degrees off center of the Milky Way, 15,200 light-yearstoward constellation Sagittarius, about halfway to the central core –
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of a dying star during the final moments of its life cycle. Lasting tens of thousands of years on human time scales, the death of this star is but a brief moment in cosmic time.
Called planetary nebula NGC 6565, Hen 2-362 or ESO 456-70, depending on the space institute or astronomer you ask, this object will eventually shrink down to become a white dwarf star.
Similar to the color display to the well-known Ring Nebula (heic 1310), the stunning cloud of colorful gas seen here was ejected from the dying star due to strong stellar winds pushing the outer layers into space. The luminous core viewed was exposed in the process, which allowed ultraviolet radiation to excite the surrounding gas to different temperatures, producing this visually attractive display of color.
NASA scientists study planetary nebula like NGC 6565 to better understand the life cycle and death of stars that end their lives as white dwarf stars. The data obtained through the study of this planetary nebula will be added to the material already obtained concerning similar stellar objects. This will help astrophysics develop better ideas and theories concerning the life of stars that end their days as white dwarf stars.
You can learn more about the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope here.