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regular-article-logo Thursday, 20 June 2024

Ring Nebula captured in astonishing detail by James Webb Space Telescope

The image shows the expanding halo of gas which was ejected when a star died 4,000 years ago

The Daily Telegraph London Published 05.08.23, 06:26 AM
Ring Nebula

Ring Nebula Wikipedia

The Ring Nebula has been captured in astonishing detail by the James Webb Space Telescope, offering a glimpse into the flamboyant future of our own Sun.

The image shows the expanding halo of gas which was ejected when a star died 4,000 years ago. At the very centre of the ring is a nascent white dwarf — the ultra-hot and dense stellar core left behind once a star’s fuel runs out. White dwarfs are so hot that they radiate ultraviolet light and X-rays causing the encircling gas to fluoresce in a rainbow of colour.

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The same fate awaits our own Sun which will run out of hydrogen in around six billion years, inflating to become a red giant, before its outer layers escape the pull of gravity, creating a glowing ring of its own.

The new image was taken by the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) — a joint collaboration between Nasa, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency — which is examining the cosmos a million miles from Earth.

An optical illusion also gave the appearance of a question mark in the image. Prof. Mike Barlow, the lead scientist of the JWST Ring Nebula Imaging Project, at the University College London said: “The James Webb Space Telescope has provided us with aw of the Ring Nebula that we’ve never seen before.”

The Daily Telegraph, London

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