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

Paris: The James Webb Space Telescope made one of the first discoveries made possible by its high-resolution observational capabilities, to detect two previously unseen stars in the Southern Ring Nebula surrounding 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 existence can be guessed thanks to the orange rings that surround it, which are traces of the substance that it emitted. 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.

But 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 center 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, from the Marseille Astrophysical Laboratory, who is one of the authors of the study published Thursday in the journal “Nature Astronomy” and includes a detailed explanation of the latest What the telescope observed.

The researcher of the National Center for Scientific Research added that scientists have been seeking, 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 telescope instruments that have 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 further 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.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.