Wow. This Phil Plait gallery of astronomical images of the year is amazing. (Can’t wait to look at them all with my astronomy-loving son, Evan). Here’s just your every day picture of a dying star.
Photo by NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
When stars die, they do it in style. This is NGC 5189, a glowing gas cloud seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. At the center is a white dwarf, the remains of what was once a star probably about twice the mass of the Sun. As it ran out of fuel, it expelled huge quantities of gas into space, exposing its dense core. White hot, spinning rapidly and possessed of a killer magnetic field, the white dwarf spewed out twin jets of energy and matter from its poles, energizing the surrounding material. However, the star is wobbling, so these lighthouse-like beams appear to carve…
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