Oregon Astronomy: Startling Hubble Finds Include Odd Star
Published 05/22/2015 at 6:00 PM PDT
(Manzanita, Oregon) – Some millions and millions of light years away from the Oregon coast, scientists are seeing some new amazing things in the universe, thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope. A freaky kind of star that almost defies explanation has been found, while another set of dead stars have been seen in a rare state of migration.
More discoveries regarding one very weird star were made recently by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, one that is exhibiting behavior astronomers have never seen before. Nicknamed "Nasty 1," a play on its catalog name of NaSt1, the star may represent a brief transitory stage in the evolution of extremely massive stars.
Nasty 1 was identified as a Wolf-Rayet star when it was discovered several decades ago – a rapidly evolving star that is much more massive than our own sun. The star loses its hydrogen-filled outer layers quickly, exposing its super-hot and extremely bright helium-burning core.
This one does not act like scientists would have expected, and it does not look like a typical Wolf-Rayet star. Normally, stars of this kind be would be shooting out twin lobes of gas from opposite sides. Instead, what they found was a pancake-shaped disk of gas surrounding the star. This oddity is nearly 2 trillion miles wide, and may have formed from an unseen companion star that snacked on the outer envelope of the newly formed Wolf-Rayet. Based on current estimates, the nebula surrounding the stars is just a few thousand years old, and as close as 3,000 light-years from Earth.
"We think there is a Wolf-Rayet star buried inside the nebula, and we think the nebula is being created by this mass-transfer process,” Mauerhan said. “So this type of sloppy stellar cannibalism actually makes Nasty 1 a rather fitting nickname."
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has also helped another recent discovery for astronomers: the first time ever photos of fledgling white dwarf stars starting out their 40-million-year move from the crowded center of an ancient star cluster to the less populated suburbs.
A white dwarf is the burned-out remnant of a star that quickly lost mass, cooled down and then stopped producing much energy and heat. As these glowing carcasses age and shed weight, their orbits begin to expand outward from the star cluster's packed downtown.
In this case, astronomers used Hubble to watch the white-dwarf exodus in the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae, a dense swarm of hundreds of thousands of stars in our Milky Way galaxy. The cluster resides 16,700 light-years away in the southern constellation Tucana.
Scientists have never seen this migration before, according to head researcher Jeremy Heyl of the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada,
"In this study, which comprises about a quarter of all the young white dwarfs in the cluster, we're actually catching the stars in the process of moving outward and segregating themselves according to mass," Heyl said. "The entire process doesn't take very long, only a few hundreds of millions of years, out of the 10-billion-year age of the cluster, for the white dwarfs to reach their new home in the outer suburbs."
More Oregon Coast Science. More starscape photos of Oregon coast below.
More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....
More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....
LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles
Back to Oregon Coast
Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net