Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Finding a binary star inside curved-jet-shooting nebula

Date:
November 7, 2012
Source:
Universitaet Tübingen
Summary:
Astronomer have discovered a pair of stars circling inside one of the strangest known planetary nebulae. The researchers used his new model to confirm a long-debated theory on the spectacular and symmetrical appearance of matter hurled into space by binary stars.

The planetary nebula Fleming 1 seen with ESO’s Very Large Telescope.
Credit: ESO/H. Boffin

University of Tübingen astronomer Dr. Thomas Rauch has helped an international team of astronomers with their discovery of a pair of stars circling inside one of the strangest known planetary nebulae. The researchers used his new model to confirm a long-debated theory on the spectacular and symmetrical appearance of matter hurled into space by binary stars.

Related Articles


The results of the study are to be published in Science.

Planetary nebulae are glowing shells of gas surrounding white dwarfs -- similar to our sun in its final phase. "Fleming 1" is a fine example of a nebula shooting out strikingly symmetrical jets of gas, which form knotted, curved patterns. The nebula is in the Centaurus constellation and was discovered just over one hundred years ago by Williamina Fleming, a former maid employed by the Harvard College Observatory when her talent for astronomy became known.

Astronomers have long debated the cause of these symmetrical jets. Now a team of researchers headed by Henri Boffin (ESO, Chile) has combined new observations from the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile with new computer modeling techniques developed by Dr. Rauch. The results gave the astronomers an explanation of how these bizarrely-shaped jets are formed. An analysis of the light coming from the heart of the nebula showed that it is most likely a close binary system of two white dwarfs revolving once in just 1.2 Earth days. Systems like that are very rare.

The new study shows that the patterns observed in the Fleming 1 nebula are the result of the inter-play between the two stars in their dying phase. It is the most comprehensive case to date of a bina-ry star system for which simulations have correctly predicted how the surrounding nebula is formed.

As the two stars aged, they spread out. Sometimes one star became a stellar vampire, sucking mat-ter from its twin. That matter was drawn towards the vampire and accreted around it in a disc. As the two stars circle each other, they cause the disc to wobble like a spinning top. That movement forces matter outward at the poles of the system -- the jets. The new study appears to confirm that the wobbling disc of gaseous matter in binary star systems is the cause of the remarkably symmetrical shapes appearing around the Fleming 1 planetary nebula.


Story Source:

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


Journal References:

  1. Henri M. J. Boffin, Brent Miszalski, Thomas Rauch, David Jones, Romano L. M. Corradi, Ralf Napiwotzki, Avril C. Day-Jones, and Joachim Köppen. An Interacting Binary System Powers Precessing Outflows of an Evolved Star. Science, 2012; 338 (6108): 773-775 DOI: 10.1126/science.1225386
  2. Henri M. J. Boffin, Brent Miszalski, Thomas Rauch, David Jones, Romano L. M. Corradi, Ralf Napiwotzki, Avril C. Day-Jones, and Joachim Köppen. An Interacting Binary System Powers Precessing Outflows of an Evolved Star. Science, 9 November 2012 DOI: 10.1126/science.1225386

Cite This Page:

Universitaet Tübingen. "Finding a binary star inside curved-jet-shooting nebula." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107073042.htm>.
Universitaet Tübingen. (2012, November 7). Finding a binary star inside curved-jet-shooting nebula. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107073042.htm
Universitaet Tübingen. "Finding a binary star inside curved-jet-shooting nebula." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107073042.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: SpaceX Launches Rocket, Satellites on Board

Raw: SpaceX Launches Rocket, Satellites on Board

AP (Mar. 2, 2015) — SpaceX launched it&apos;s 16th Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sunday night. The rocket was carrying two commercial communications satellites. (March 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 1, 2015) — NASA Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts perform their third spacewalk in eight days outside the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) — Astronauts are ahead of schedule with hardware upgrades to the International Space Station, despite last week&apos;s spacesuit water leak scare. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Hole 12 Billion Times the Size of Sun Discovered at Dawn of Universe

Black Hole 12 Billion Times the Size of Sun Discovered at Dawn of Universe

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) — Scientists are saying they&apos;ve spotted a black hole 12 billion time bigger than the sun. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

More Coverage


Cosmic Sprinklers Explained: Odd Pair of Aging Stars Sculpt Spectacular Shape of Planetary Nebula

Nov. 8, 2012 — Astronomers have discovered a pair of stars orbiting each other at the center of one of the most remarkable examples of a planetary nebula. The new result confirms a long-debated theory about what ... read more

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