A new star is born and while it happened, researchers had the chance to capture the fabulous event. A team of astronomers using the SPHERE ZIMPOL instrument have witnessed how a butterfly nebula emerges from dusty cocoon.
This can be translated as the presence of a circumstellar dusk disk around the giant red star called L2 Puppis.
The ZIMPOL mode of the newly installed very large telescope, singular in the world, allowed researchers to observe and capture a unique moment happening in outer space. The images that now make waves in the virtual world show the butterfly shaped star along with a stellar companion.
This appears to be a sharp image of an aging star giving birth to a butterfly like planetary nebula. L2 Puppis is located 200 light years away and it is known as one of the closest red giants to our planet, now entering its final stages of life.
This fascinating phenomena can be observed with the help of advanced technology, namely the Zimpol instrument on ESO’s very large telescope, producing images three times sharper than those revealed by the Hubble Space Telescope. Now we can see the dust that surrounds L2 Puppis and clearly observe that the dust is arranged in a disc.
With the help of the detailed images, astronomers from the University of Chile in Santiago and other researchers from France and US, could see how the dust disc begins at 900 million km away from the star, flaring outwards and thus creating a symmetrical funnel shape that surrounds the celestial body.
And the findings don’t stop here, as a companion star about 300 million km away from L2 Puppis was also observed. Scientists stated that this is most probably another red giant of a lower mass and less evolved.
The butterfly shape of the celestial body is the effect of a galactic combo: the large amount of dust that surrounds a slowly dying star and the presence of its companion. This is the type of system that creates a bipolar planetary nebula, namely the butterfly effect star that we see on our computer screens.
All the elements creating the effect seem to be indispensable for the view. Good fortune also stood aside astronomers, witnessing the emergence of a celestial butterfly from its dusty chrysalis.
According to recent declarations from the lead author of this research, the origin of bipolar planetary nebulae is one of the great problems of modern astrophysics, raising questions on how exactly stars return their load of metals back into space. This is one of the essential regenerative processes in the universe, and understanding it allows for future insights on the question of how exactly materials are used to produce later generations of planetary systems.
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