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 January 25, 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 January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rosetta Captures Stunning Views, Diverse Data Of Comet 67P

Rosetta Captures Stunning Views, Diverse Data Of Comet 67P

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) — The first images of the European Space Agency&apos;s Rosetta probe comet orbit could provide clues about its origin and how it got its unique shape. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Planets Could Be Lurking Far Beyond Neptune

New Planets Could Be Lurking Far Beyond Neptune

Newsy (Jan. 21, 2015) — Scientists say planets located beyond Neptune could be altering the orbits of objects in the farthest reaches of our solar system. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
130,000 Pages Of UFO Investigation Docs Now Online

130,000 Pages Of UFO Investigation Docs Now Online

Newsy (Jan. 20, 2015) — "UFO enthusiast" John Greenewald says he&apos;s spent 20 years collecting these docs, and believes there&apos;s a cover-up going on. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Navy Satellite Blasts Off

US Navy Satellite Blasts Off

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 20, 2015) — A rocket carrying a new U.S. navy satellite that&apos;s designed to improve communications for forces on the move, successfully lifts off from Florida. Yiming Woo reports. 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:

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