Sunday, 8 January 2017

Hubble captures 'shadow play' caused by possible planet

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Astronomers have been surprised to see a huge shadow sweeping across a disk of dust and gas encircling the nearby, young star TW Hydrae. They have a bird's-eye view of the disk, because it is tilted face-on to Earth, and the shadow sweeps around the disk like the hands moving around a clock. But, unlike the hands of a clock, the shadow takes 16 years to make one rotation. Hubble has 18 years' worth of observations of the star; therefore, astronomers could assemble a time-lapse movie of the shadow's rotation.
via Science Daily
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IC 4406: A Seemingly Square Nebula

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How can a round star make a square nebula? This conundrum comes to light when studying planetary nebulae like IC 4406. Evidence indicates that IC 4406 is likely a hollow cylinder, with its square appearance the result of our vantage point in viewing the cylinder from the side. Were IC 4406 viewed from the top, it would likely look similar to the Ring Nebula. This representative-color picture is a composite made by combining images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2001 and 2002. Hot gas flows out the ends of the cylinder, while filaments of dark dust and molecular gas lace the bounding walls. The star primarily responsible for this interstellar sculpture can be found in the planetary nebula's center. In a few million years, the only thing left visible in IC 4406 will be a fading white dwarf star.

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