January 2012

Hubble Discovers a Bubble

What happens when a white dwarf star becomes so massive it explodes? A supernova of course!

What causes the white dwarf (now named supernova: 0509-67.5) to gain enough mass for this to happen… Normally astronomers theorize that this happens when the white dwarf simply gathers enough material from another companion star.

Although, with the sharp discerning eye of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers could not find any trace of such a companion star having had mass siphoned away from 0509-67.5, the white dwarf.

Instead, rather than merely taking material away, they believe that this white dwarf actually collided with another white dwarf, creating an intense supernova. Therefore both stars were destroyed and in the midst of the blast this beautiful strange looking bubble was created as a result; now showing in deep space, no need to arrive late to avoid sitting through previews. You probably won’t need to make a trip to the concession counter and stand in line for popcorn, candy and soda pop, either.

Planetary Nebula is One of Hubble's Greatest Discoveries

One of the Hubble telescope’s best discoveries was the planetary nebula. These nebulae form as a result of a dying star no longer being able to hold its contents. While a young star can hold together due to fusion reactions in its center.

The gravity placed upon the materials on the outer part of a star will eventually take their toll on the structure of that star. Thereby forcing the inner materials to heat up and condense. The hot temperatures at the central point of the star will cause fast stellar winds to push the outer materials away. This will occur over the course of a few thousand light years.

The end result is a glowing core with distant gases ignited by its force causing them to take on eerie forms and different colors of iridescence.

A common myth is that planetary nebulae are associated with planets given the name. This is false. Planetary nebulas are directly related to stars. To read more, click here.