Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dust and the Helix Nebula

Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Kate Su (Steward Obs, U. Arizona) et al.

Explanation: Dust makes this cosmic eye look red. The eerie Spitzer Space Telescope image shows infrared radiation from the well-studied Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) a mere 700 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. The two light-year diameter shroud of dust and gas around a central white dwarf has long been considered an excellent example of a planetary nebula, representing the final stages in the evolution of a sun-like star. But the Spitzer data show the nebula's central star itself is immersed in a surprisingly bright infrared glow. Models suggest the glow is produced by a dust debris disk. Even though the nebular material was ejected from the star many thousands of years ago, the close-in dust could be generated by collisions in a reservoir of objects analogous to our own solar system's Kuiper Belt or cometary Oort cloud. Formed in the distant planetary system, the comet-like bodies have otherwise survived even the dramatic late stages of the star's evolution.

link: LIFE CYCLE OF THE SUN

7 comments:

L>T said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the clown link. :)

I love these kinds of cosmic pictures. They always make me feel connected to the universe.

beepbeepitsme said...

You can't fool me. I know that that is satan's eye staring at me, inducing me to eat that extra chocolate chip cookie...

Stardust said...

beep, I thought the same thing when I saw it...ooooo a DEMON'S eye. LOL! Or one of those alien creatures from a sci-fi movie.

Stardust said...

l>t - I love these pictures too. I would love to spend a year living at an observatory and watching the astronomers work. I would love to someday actually look through one of the massive telescopes like at Kitt Peak in Arizona. I was there for a tour and that was quite interesting. There is a museum there and an educational center.

CactusFreek said...

Hi Stardust, i came here from Tommys blog where you were shaking your finger at us christian types lol
I've seen a picture like this not long ago, but it was blue,green and brown in the middle and funnily enough it was called the "Eye of God". The picture on this post definatly looks like a yukky eye and i'll probably have nightmares about it now, thanks! lol
It's still pretty as far as star systems go.

CactusFreek said...

I just checked out the rest of your blog..Not bad at all! Keep up the great work :o)

Tommy said...

Wait, I know what that is! It's the Eye of Sauron!