Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Double Engine Fuels Star's Remarkable Nebula

Date:
August 5, 2009
Source:
European Southern Observatory - ESO
Summary:
ESO has just released a stunning new image of a field of stars towards the constellation of Carina (the Keel). This striking view is ablaze with a flurry of stars of all colors and brightnesses, some of which are seen against a backdrop of clouds of dust and gas. One unusual star in the middle, HD 87643, has been extensively studied with several ESO telescopes, including the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). Surrounded by a complex, extended nebula that is the result of previous violent ejections, the star has been shown to have a companion. Interactions in this double system, surrounded by a dusty disc, may be the engine fueling the star's remarkable nebula.

This image, centred on the B[e] star HD 87643, beautifully shows the extended nebula of gas and dust that reflects the light from the star. The central star's wind appears to have shaped the nebula, leaving bright, ragged tendrils of gas and dust. A careful investigation of these features seems to indicate that there are regular ejections of matter from the star every 15 to 50 years.
Credit: ESO/F. Millour et al.

ESO has just released a stunning new image of a field of stars towards the constellation of Carina (the Keel). This striking view is ablaze with a flurry of stars of all colors and brightnesses, some of which are seen against a backdrop of clouds of dust and gas. One unusual star in the middle, HD 87643, has been extensively studied with several ESO telescopes, including the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI).

Surrounded by a complex, extended nebula that is the result of previous violent ejections, the star has been shown to have a companion. Interactions in this double system, surrounded by a dusty disc, may be the engine fuelling the star’s remarkable nebula.

The new image, showing a very rich field of stars towards the Carina arm of the Milky Way, is centred on the star HD 87643, a member of the exotic class of B[e] stars [1]. It is part of a set of observations that provide astronomers with the best ever picture of a B[e] star.

The image was obtained with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the 2400-metre-high La Silla Observatory in Chile. The image shows beautifully the extended nebula of gas and dust that reflects the light from the star. The central star’s wind appears to have shaped the nebula, leaving bright, ragged tendrils of gas and dust. A careful investigation of these features seems to indicate that there are regular ejections of matter from the star every 15 to 50 years.

A team of astronomers, led by Florentin Millour, has studied the star HD 87643 in great detail, using several of ESO’s telescopes. Apart from the WFI, the team also used ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal.

At the VLT, the astronomers used the NACO adaptive optics instrument, allowing them to obtain an image of the star free from the blurring effect of the atmosphere. To probe the object further, the team then obtained an image with the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI).

The sheer range of this set of observations, from the panoramic WFI image to the fine detail of the VLTI observations, corresponds to a zoom-in factor of 60 000 between the two extremes. The astronomers found that HD 87643 has a companion located at about 50 times the Earth–Sun distance and is embedded in a compact dust shell. The two stars probably orbit each other in a period between 20 and 50 years. A dusty disc may also be surrounding the two stars.

The presence of the companion could be an explanation for the regular ejection of matter from the star and the formation of the nebula: as the companion moves on a highly elliptical orbit, it would regularly come very close to HD 87643, triggering an ejection.

[1]: B[e] stars are stars of spectral type B, with emission lines in their spectra, hence the "e". They are surrounded by a large amount of dust.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Southern Observatory - ESO. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. F. Millour et al. A binary engine fueling HD 87643's complex circumstellar environment using AMBER/VLTI imaging. Astronomy and Astrophysics, Online July 17, 2009

Cite This Page:

European Southern Observatory - ESO. "Double Engine Fuels Star's Remarkable Nebula." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090805095646.htm>.
European Southern Observatory - ESO. (2009, August 5). Double Engine Fuels Star's Remarkable Nebula. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090805095646.htm
European Southern Observatory - ESO. "Double Engine Fuels Star's Remarkable Nebula." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090805095646.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) The B612 Foundation says asteroids strike Earth much more often than previously thought, and are hoping to build an early warning system. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA administrator Charles Bolden, speaking at the 'Human to Mars Summit' in Washington, says that learning more about the Red Planet can help answer the 'fundamental question' of 'life beyond Earth'. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA is inviting all social media users to take a selfie of themselves alongside nature and to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Google Plus with the hashtag #globalselfie. NASA's goal is to crowd-source a collection of snapshots of the earth, ground-up, that will be used to create one "unique mosaic of the Blue Marble." This image will be available to all in May. Since this is probably one of the few times posting a selfie to Twitter won't be embarrassing, we suggest you give it a go for a good cause. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 20, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft makes a scheduled Easter Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. 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:
from the past week

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