The James Webb Space Telescope has captured a stunningly detailed image of the Ring Nebula that foretells the eventual fate of our Sun, which will likely create a similar spectacle after it becomes a red giant in five billion years.
Located approximately 2,600 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Lyra, is the colorful cosmic eye of the Ring Nebula. The Hulk was created when he was a red giant The star, which was nearing the end of its life, released huge amounts of stellar material into the surrounding space environment. Radiation from the star then saturates the material, which in turn ionizes it, causing the receding mass to glow with its soft light.
“The nebula is growing larger,” Albert Ziegelstra, professor of astrophysics at the University of Manchester, told IGN. “Eventually, it will dissolve into the galaxy. Over time, gas and dust can find its way into the regions where new stars are forming, and become part of new stars and planets. And we know that this is what happened to us, when the solar system formed, it was including parts From the oldest planetary nebulae.
And the one ring that governs them all has been observed #NASA Web!
The remains of a dying sun-like star, the Ring Nebula, have given astronomers valuable insights into the formation and evolution of planetary nebulae: https://t.co/dRSQAriIDH pic.twitter.com/zkYswl5phc
– Space Telescope Science Institute (@SpaceTelescope) August 21, 2023
The stunning spatial resolution of Webb’s new image allowed the scientists to identify a number of previously unknown features in the nebula’s structure, which indicated that the vast cloud of dust and gas was formed by the impact of not one, but three stellar bodies.
“These innovations in telescope and infrared detection mean that many of the ring’s details revealed in the latest JWST imagery have not previously been visible to astronomers.” said Dr. Mikako Matsuuraa reader at Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, who was one of the scientists involved in the new observations.
“While previously we could only see a ring, we now know that it is filled with 20,000 spheres. For the first time, we can also see beyond the ring which extends with faint spines and arches, forming a petal-like structure resembling a flower.
Stunning images from the James Webb Space Telescope
Astronomers believe that the ten concentric arcs that were observed in the outer ring may have been formed as a result of the gravitational influence of a relatively small companion star as it orbits the red giant in the heart of the nebula, with a separation distance similar to the distance separating the sun from Pluto. . As the companion orbits the star, it will form a jet of escaping material, leading to creation Approximately one arc every 280 years.
A few thousand years from now, the nebula’s brilliance will begin to fade as the central red dwarf cools down into a white dwarf – the dense core of a dead star. Billions of years later, the Sun will likely follow in the footsteps of its distant stellar relative and form its own nebula.
“The Sun is a little younger than the star that created the Ring Nebula. Such a planetary nebula could form, in about five billion years, but it has reached its limit: [if] “It was only a few percent smaller, and you wouldn’t be able to,” Zijlstra told IGN. “It will form a much fainter and less colorful nebula than the Ring Nebula, and since the Sun does not have a companion star, it will probably form a Round Nebula.”
Anthony is a freelance contributor covering science and video game news for IGN. He has over eight years of experience covering breaking developments in multiple scientific fields and has absolutely no time to fool you. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer
Image credit: Image credit: ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, M. Barlow (University College London), N. Cox (ACRI-ST), R. Wesson (Cardiff University)
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