NASA’s Hubble Captures Final Moments of Dying Star


Fazanavard فضانورد
Apr 5, 2015
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The Hubble Telescope has captured a stunning image of a dying star’s final moments, as it exudes wisps of blue and orange into outer space before transforming into a white dwarf.

The image, released on NASA’s website this week, shows the star radiate light outwards as it slowly expires. While the star’s demise may be slow by our standards, in this case lasting tens of thousands of years, the process is a mere blink of an eye in the cosmological timescale.

While slow, the star’s demise releases deep blue light encircled with an orange hue in a breathtaking cosmic display. This explosive final stage of a star’s life is known as a planetary nebula. Named NGC 6565, this particular nebula began when a gas cloud was ejected from the star as a result of strong stellar winds pushing its layers into outer space.

According to NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), the ejection of the gas cloud left the star’s luminous core exposed to ultraviolet radiation. The interaction of this radiation with the surrounding gas releases the lights outwards, as captured by the Hubble, leading to the star’s inevitable death.

After thousands of years, the star’s center cools down and shrinks as it turns into a white dwarf. The star’s light subsequently weakens until it diminishes and fades from view.

Our own sun will likely expire in a similar planetary nebula thousands of years from now. The same orange and blue color lights can be seen in the images captured of the famous Ring Nebula, which lies 2,500 light years away from Earth.


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A dying star’s final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star’s demise is still quite lengthy by our standards, lasting tens of thousands of years!

The star’s agony has culminated in a wonderful planetary nebula known as NGC 6565, a cloud of gas that was ejected from the star after strong stellar winds pushed the star’s outer layers away into space. Once enough material was ejected, the star’s luminous core was exposed and it began to produce ultraviolet radiation, exciting the surrounding gas to varying degrees and causing it to radiate in an attractive array of colours. These same colours can be seen in the famous and impressive Ring Nebula (heic1310), a prominent example of a nebula like this one.

Planetary nebulae are illuminated for around 10 000 years before the central star begins to cool and shrink to become a white dwarf. When this happens, the star’s light drastically diminishes and ceases to excite the surrounding gas, so the nebula fades from view.

A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures basic image competition by contestant Matej Novak.

Position (RA): 18 11 52.40
Position (Dec): -28° 10' 40.95"
Field of view: 0.50 x 0.37 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 134.9° left of vertical

View in WorldWide Telescope:


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