Webb telescope reveals luminous stellar crime scene

Two images of the Southern Ring Nebula taken with the Webb Telescope.

2,500 years ago, one of the most beautiful features of space was born: the Southern Ring Nebula. The nebula was clearly imaged by the Webb Space Telescope earlier this year, and astronomers now think they know exactly how the star’s violent explosion occurred, leaving the elegant nebula in its wake.

The star carrying the nebula was about three times the size of the Sun and 500 million years old. This is very small, star-wise. Our Sun is about 4.6 billion years old Have to live for another 5 billion.

About 2,500 years ago, Confucius and Buddha were still alive. The Peloponnesian Wars were about to begin. And somewhere in those intervening years, a star 2,000 light-years away expired, spewing gas outwards from a newly formed white dwarf.

The Southern Ring Nebula’s star isn’t dead — not yet — but its gas ejection is a major turning point in the star’s life. White dwarfs are the end of the stellar game. They form when stars deplete their nuclear energy and begin to slow down.

Thanks to images from the Webb Space Telescope and smart accounts and Mathematical modeling by the research teamThe moments before the Southern Ring Nebula’s starlight show can now be seen It is examined in detail.

Various Webb filters stand out aspects of light source, and here’s why It may look like some parts of the nebula Pearly or translucent red while others appear blue or orange, depending on the imageage. web Choose image processors Highlight different aspects of things in order to display different items – hot gas, for exampleor star factories within larger systems.

A team of 70 astronomers worked together to determine that as many as five stars (only two of which are now visible) may have been involved in the demise of the stars. Their investigation into the death of the star is published Today in Natural Astronomy.

Representative color image of the Southern Ring Nebula.

“We were surprised to find evidence of two or three companion stars that may have hastened its death, as well as one other ‘innocent spectator’ star caught in the midst of the interaction,” said Ursula DiMarco, an astronomer at Macquarie University and the study’s authors. Lead author at a university Release.

Playing the team game for the nebula’s origins was made possible by extremely precise measurements of the brightest star (the interstellar star, if you will) in Webb ipond. Webb’s data enabled the researchers to accurately measure his mass and how far he was in his private lifeThis, in turn, allowed them to derive the mass of the central, faint star before it sheds its matter and creates the colorful hue nebula.

Webb imaged the southern loop with two instruments, NIRcam and MIRI. Webb’s images were complemented by data from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, the San Pedro de Martire Telescope, and NASA’s Gaia and Hubble Space Telescopes.

only two of It is believed that stars are involved in this cosmic outrage visible in web‘s Representative color shot from the nebula with NIRcam. The bright star in the center of the nebula partnered with the star, which released so much material that it became a white dwarf. This charming (and debilitated) star sits faintly along the eight o’clock diffraction height from the bright center star in the photo above.

Astronomers believe that at least one star has interacted with the fainter star (star 1 in the pictured timeline). below) as the latter swelled, preparing to expel its gas and become a white dwarf.

According to the team, this mysterious star (star 3) spewed out jets of material as it interacted with the dying star and blanketed the faint star in dust before merging with the dwarf. Star 2 in the illustration is the bright spot in the nebula’s center now – a relatively strong character, given its lack of explosive activity or outgassing.

Six panels showing the stars' relative closeness and how they interact, giving rise to the nebula.

Another star (or “Partygoer”, in Space Telescope Science Institute analogy An astrophysics error) kicked up the gas and dust released by its predecessor, causing undulating ripples in the matter. Then another star (star 5 in the panels above) orbited the light show and produced the ring system that surrounds the nebula.

According to the researchers’ estimates, you can consider the white dwarf near the core of the nebula to be the host of the party who raged furiously and passed out before the end of the party. But the star showed everyone a great time doing it, and thanks to him, the party kept going.

“We think all this gas and dust that we see everywhere must have come from that star, but the companion stars threw it in very specific directions,” said Joel Kastner, an astrophysicist at Rochester Institute of Technology. In StScI Release.

Researchers believe that the same methods that revealed the details of the Southern Ring Nebula’s birth could help decipher the birth of other nebulae, as well as the astrophysical forces at work in star interactions.

The images that revealed this interstellar landscape were released in June. Only now have the researchers had enough time to examine the data and offer their own interpretation of it.

So, look at the pictures I was you I have seen From web thus far—They all have their own stories, which will (hopefully) be told in detail soon.

More: Are the colors in Webb telescope images ‘fake’?

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