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The James Webb Telescope reveals the mystery of a "nebula" surrounding a dying star

The James Webb Telescope reveals the mystery of a “nebula” surrounding a dying star

The space telescope “James Webb” is able to solve the mystery of the “nebula” by observing two stars that were not previously visible in the Southern Ring Nebula, which surrounds a declining star.

  • The James Webb Telescope reveals the mystery of a “nebula” surrounding a dying star

manage space telescope “james webb” In one of his first discoveries made possible by his meticulous observing abilities, he spotted two previously unseen stars in the Southern Ring Nebula, which surrounds a dying star.

This strange nebula is located in the Milky Way, about 2,000 light-years away from the solar system. It is a giant cloud of gas and dust produced by a star, as it expels some of its matter when it descends, and it contains a lot of gas and little dust.

In the center of the nebula remains the heart of this star, which is called a “white dwarf”, and it is a very hot and very small star that is difficult to see directly, but its presence can be guessed thanks to the orange rings that surround it, which are the traces of the substance that it spewed. It is assumed that the fate of our sun will be similar in a few billion years, as will happen to the vast majority of stars.

And unlike the sun, which will set alone, the “white dwarf” in the heart of the Southern Ring Nebula is not alone. It was known until now that it has a “companion” star, which is easier to spot than a “white dwarf” because it is still in its infancy. This companion star is the one that appears the brightest in the middle of the dust disk in the images taken by the James Webb telescope, which has been located since last summer, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

However, this familiar stellar binary in the Milky Way did not provide a justification for the “atypical” structure of the nebula, as explained by Philippe Amram, of the Marseille Astrophysical Laboratory, who is one of the authors of the study published, today, Thursday, in the journal “Nature Astronomy” and includes A detailed explanation of the latest observations of the telescope.

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The researcher, affiliated with the National Center for Scientific Research, added that scientists have sought, since the discovery of the southern ring nebula by astronomer John Herschel in 1835, to know the reason for its “strange, non-spherical shape.”

James Webb’s observations contribute to clarifying this mystery, as the instruments of the telescope, which has vision at the infrared level, a wavelength invisible to the human eye, provided evidence of the presence of at least two other stars within the nebula.

These two discovered stars are located in the center of the nebula, which extends over a diameter equivalent to 1,500 times the distance from the Sun to Pluto. They are farther from the “white dwarf” than the companion star, but the four stars are generally close enough to each other to interact. Thus, an “energy exchange” takes place between these stars, which affects the structure of the nebula, and explains its distinctive appearance, according to the astrophysicist.

And last February, the American agency “NASA” for space sciences released the first images taken by the “James Webb” telescope, nearly two months after its official launch.