Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dying Sun-like Stars Leave Whirlpools In Their Wake

Date:
April 23, 2007
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society
Summary:
Astronomers based at Jodrell Bank Observatory have found evidence that giant whirlpools form in the wake of stars as they move through clouds in interstellar space. Scientists used the COBRA supercomputer to simulate in three-dimensions the movement of a dying star through surrounding interstellar gas. At the end of their life, Sun-sized stars lose their grip on their outer layers and as much as half of their mass drifts off into space.

A combined image showing the bright regions and the faint regions behind the bright arc.
Credit: Image credit: N Wright, University College London

Astronomers based at Jodrell Bank Observatory have found evidence that giant whirlpools form in the wake of stars as they move through clouds in interstellar space.

Related Articles


Dr Wareing and his colleagues used the COBRA supercomputer to simulate in three-dimensions the movement of a dying star through surrounding interstellar gas. At the end of their life, Sun-sized stars lose their grip on their outer layers and as much as half of their mass drifts off into space. The computer simulation modelled the collision between material given off by the star and the interstellar gas.

It showed that a shockwave forms ahead of the dying star and giant eddies and whirlpools develop in the tail of material behind the star, similar to those seen in the wake of boats on open water. The group have now backed up these predictions with observations of the planetary nebula Sharpless 2-188 taken as part of the IPHAS (Isaac Newton Telescope Photometric H alpha Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane).

The central star of Sharpless 2-188 is 850 light years away and it is travelling at 125 kilometres per second across the sky. Observations show a strong brightening in the direction in which the star is moving and faint material stretching away in the opposite direction. Dr Wareing believes that the bright structures in the arc observed ahead of Sharpless 2-188 are the bowshock instabilities revealed in his simulations, which will form whirlpools as they spiral past the star downstream to the tail.

"These vortices can improve the mixing of the stellar material back into interstellar space, benefiting the next cycle of star formation. The turbulent whirlpools have an inherent spin, or angular momentum, which is an essential ingredient for the formation of the next generation of stars." said Dr Wareing who developed the computer model during his PhD and is now using it to understand the fate of our Sun.

Dying stars eject both gas and dust into space. The dust will coalesce into planets around later generations of stars. The gas contains carbon, necessary for life and produced inside stars. How the carbon, other gas and dust are ejected from the dying star is not well understood. The whirlpools in space can play an important role in mixing these essential ingredients into the interstellar gas from which further stars and planets will form.

This discovery was presented by Dr Chris Wareing at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Preston.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society. "Dying Sun-like Stars Leave Whirlpools In Their Wake." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070419123747.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society. (2007, April 23). Dying Sun-like Stars Leave Whirlpools In Their Wake. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070419123747.htm
Royal Astronomical Society. "Dying Sun-like Stars Leave Whirlpools In Their Wake." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070419123747.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

What NASA Wants To Learn From Its 'Year In Space' Tests

What NASA Wants To Learn From Its 'Year In Space' Tests

Newsy (Mar. 28, 2015) Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend a year in space running tests on human physiology and psychology. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crew Starts One-Year Space Mission

Crew Starts One-Year Space Mission

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 28, 2015) Russian-U.S. crew arrives safely at the International Space Station for the start of a ground-breaking year-long stay. Paul Chapman reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why So Many People Think NASA's Asteroid Mission Is A Waste

Why So Many People Think NASA's Asteroid Mission Is A Waste

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) The Asteroid Retrieval Mission announced this week bears little resemblance to its grand beginnings. Even NASA scientists are asking, "Why bother?" Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Station Crew Docks Safely

Space Station Crew Docks Safely

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) NASA TV footage shows the successful docking of a Russian Soyuz craft to the International Space Station for a year-long mission. Rough cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins