Stunning Hubble photo catches an aging star's giant ring of space gas

19 Août, 2019, 15:58 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Image ESA  Hubble & NASA R. Wade

In this new image from the Hubble Space Telescope, what looks like a top-down view of a jellyfish glowing in deep space is actually the planetary nebula NGC 2022. In the image, the star is visible in the orb's centre.

When stars get older, they grow in size and glow a red hue. They can lose more than half of their mass through this shedding.

The star, named NGC 2022, is part of the Orion constellation.

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"Although it looks more like an entity seen through a microscope than a telescope, this rounded object, named NGC 2022, is certainly no alga or tiny, blobby jellyfish", they said in a statement. These red giants, begin to lose their outer layers.

"It is filled with dense knots of gas, fast-moving jets that appear to be changing direction over time, and expanding clouds of material streaming outwards on diametrically opposite sides of the remnant star". Simultaneously, the aging star's core becomes smaller and hotter, emitting ultraviolet light that causes the expelled gases to glow in the process. When a star, such as the sun, uses all of the hydrogen up in its core, it grows bigger and transforms into a red giant. It emits UV light, which causes the gases around it to glow. Once the temperature soars high enough, it's possible for helium to fuse into carbon - and that causes the star to expand to a much larger radius than before. These materials will then form a shell of gas that of the type we see here.

According to NASA, the rounded object with gaseous glow is called a planetary nebula. The name derives from the rounded, planet-like appearance of these objects in early telescopes.

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