Home > Agencies & Organisations, Astronomy, ESO (European Southern Observatory), General Astronomy, Stars > Surprising Spiral Structure Spotted By ALMA: New Observations Reveal The Secrets Of A Dying Star

Surprising Spiral Structure Spotted By ALMA: New Observations Reveal The Secrets Of A Dying Star


Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

A team using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most powerful millimetre/submillimetre telescope in the world, has discovered a surprising spiral structure in the gas around the red giant star R Sculptoris. This means that there is probably a previously unseen companion star orbiting the star. The astronomers were also surprised to find that far more material than expected had been ejected by the red giant.

“We’ve seen shells around this kind of star before, but this is the first time we’ve ever seen a spiral of material coming out from a star, together with a surrounding shell,” says the lead author on the paper presenting the results, Matthias Maercker (ESO and Argelander Institute for Astronomy, University of Bonn, Germany).

Because they blow out large amounts of material, red giants like R Sculptoris are major contributors to the dust and gas that provide the bulk of the raw materials for the formation of future generations of stars, planetary systems and subsequently for life.

Full Story: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1239/

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