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StartSpaceA hidden big – Astronomy Now

A hidden big – Astronomy Now

Picture: ESA/ Hubble and NASA/T. Ueta/H. Kim.

The star hidden inside this spectacular dusty cocoon shouldn’t be solely a crimson big, but additionally a uncommon stellar breed referred to as a carbon star. Named CW Leonis, it’s the closest instance of a carbon star to us, discovered at a distance of 400 mild years within the constellation of Leo, the Lion.

A carbon star is an developed star that has begun ejecting its outer layers into area, exposing its carbon-rich inside. The ejected materials condenses into mud, which now shrouds CW Leonis, forming the start of what is going to blossom right into a planetary nebula, maybe not too dissimilar to the Ring Nebula or the Dumbbell Nebula.

Regardless of its relative proximity to the Photo voltaic System, CW Leonis’ true nature was found solely as lately as 1969, when it was noticed by the now defunct Caltech Infrared Telescope on Mount Wilson in California.

CW Leonis was initially a star not too dissimilar to our Solar, just a bit hotter and between three and 5 instances extra large. The nebula has been dated at 69,000 years outdated, and the star is shedding materials so rapidly that 1.4 photo voltaic lots of its preliminary mass is now present in its burgeoning mud shroud. Inside this cocoon, the star will regularly remodel right into a white dwarf.

Nonetheless, there are a few twists to the tail. One is that CW Leonis might have an unseen companion star, whose gravity helps to form the nebula. The opposite twist pertains to the rays of sunshine seen shining from the star on this picture from the Hubble House Telescope’s Broad-Subject Digital camera 3. These rays have been seen to fluctuate in brightness through the previous 15 years. Astronomers don’t know why, however one risk is that the sunshine is shining via gaps within the mud, and because the mud clouds shift, the gaps widen or slim, altering the brightness of these rays.


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