Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Spiral of a dying star
The spiral is made from material ejected by a red giant star, a star that is at the end of its life cycle. It has already burnt all its hydrogen, transformed it through nuclear fusion into helium , and it is now transforming helium into carbon, again through a process of nuclear fusion.
The spiral is due to the fact that the red giant star has a companion, another star, and the gravitational influence of the companion star "pushes" the material into a spiral.
Another very interesting fact is that the spiral is being lit, not by the binary star, but by galactic starlight!
More on the Hubble photograph here: An Extraordinary Celestial Spiral
The short scientific article is here, free for download: A Binary-Induced Pinwheel Outflow from the Extreme Carbon Star, AFGL 3068