A creepy look on a star that weaves a web of dust
The drama of interstellar death can seem strange at times. This photo of elderly red giant CW star Leonis looks like something out of a Halloween story. The star appears to be trapped in soft orange cobwebs that wrap around the star. Rays of light shine through the dust, like sunlight on a partly cloudy day. As the fuel runs out, the star “burps” the sooty coal shells that escape into space. The carbon was baked into the star’s core as nuclear fusion waste. Anyone who owns a fireplace knows that soot is a nuisance. But the carbon ejected into space provides the raw materials for the formation of stars, planets and perhaps life in the future. Complex biological molecules on Earth are made up of carbon atoms bonded to other common elements.
This is a set of time-lapse images of the aging red giant star CW Leonis, taken on three dates: 2001, 2011 and 2016. The star is embedded in a spider web of dust that surrounds the star. ‘star. They are actually carbon dust shells emitted by the star. As they expand in space, they change shape, as shown in between The Hubble Space Telescope exposure. Bright spots scatter from the star’s surface through the dust. These beams change direction during the different dates that the Hubble images were taken. Credit: Animation: ESA / Hubble, Nasa, STScI, Acknowledgments: Toshiya Ueta (University of Denver), Hyosun Kim (KASI), M. Zamani
Hubble celebrates Halloween with a dying shining star
Hypnotic whirlwind? Take a look at a witch’s cauldron? Giant space spider web?
Indeed, it’s a look at the red giant CW Leonis photographed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope – just in time to celebrate Halloween with spooky celestial views.
The orange-red “spiders” are dusty clouds of sooty coal that engulf the dying star. Created from the outer layers of CW Leonis which have been cast into the black ink void. The carbon, cooked by nuclear fusion inside the star, gives it a carbon-rich atmosphere. The explosion of carbon in space provides raw material for the formation of stars and planets in the future. All known life forms on Earth are carbon based atom. Complex biological molecules are made up of carbon atoms bonded to other common elements in the universe.
CW Leonis is located at a distance of 400 light years from Earth and is the nearest carbon star. This gives astronomers a chance to understand the interplay between the star and its turbulent atmosphere. The intricate internal structure of shells and arcs can be shaped by the star’s magnetic field. CW Leonis’ detailed Hubble observations taken over the past two decades also show strands of ejected matter stretching around the star.
One of the star’s most interesting features is the light rays emitted by CW Leonis. They changed in brightness over a period of 15 years – an incredibly short period of time in astronomical terms. Astronomers speculate that the gaps in the dust covering CW Leonis may allow beams of stellar light to penetrate the dust and shine them, like searchlight beacons, across the overcast sky. However, the exact reason for the dramatic changes in its brightness has not yet been explained.
The star lights up when the external pressure from the blast furnace in the core balances against gravitational crushing. When the star runs out of hydrogen, the constant pull of gravity causes the star to collapse. When the core retracts, the envelope plasma The surroundings of the nucleus become hot enough to begin to merge hydrogen, giving the star a second chance at life. It generates enough heat to significantly expand the star’s outer layers and swell into a swollen red giant.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted many spooky objects in the universe. CW Leonis is just the last one. credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; Main producer: Paul Morris
CW Leonis has a reddish orange color due to its relatively low surface temperature of 2,300 degrees F. However, the green-colored light rays emitted by the star shine at wavelengths invisible in the mid-infrared. In the absence of natural color, green has been added to the infrared image for better color contrast analysis.
The Hubble Space Telescope is an international collaborative project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). The telescope is operated by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Consortium of Universities for Research in Astronomy, in Washington, DC