Astronomers have discovered inside a red giant fiery spiral


11/10/2012

ALMA radio telescope recorded a red giant star in the constellation of Sculptor, which is located inside the "fiery spiral", formed by the interaction of the solar wind emanating from the fading light, with its invisible companion is transferred to the paper, which was published in the journal Nature.

A group of researchers from the University of Bonn, headed by Matthias Merker studied processes in the elderly stars, they belong to a certain giant branch, which is called the asymptotic (AGB).

AGB-stars are heavenly bodies, the mass of which is from 2 to 10 solar. Having exhausted their supplies of hydrogen fuel, they become red giants, as the scientists explain. Often around the red giant spherical shell is formed, consisting of the heated gases in mind of the solar wind and solar flares that appear inside the nucleus star. It, in turn, emits into the environment large amounts of plasma. Such outbreaks, according to modern concepts, can last for hundreds and thousands of years.

To search for such stars of the authors applied the power is being built in Chile’s Atacama desert telescope ALMA. Looking AGB-stars scientists turned their attention mainly on a very unusual star in the constellation of the same name - the star of R Sculptor, which is removed by 1.5 thousand light-years from Earth. A short distance to the light and fairly high resolution ALMA has enabled astronomers to peer inside the gas envelope, framing the star and get a number of its high-quality images.

What was a surprise Merker and his colleagues when they discovered that the shell R sculptor presented not in the form of a hollow sphere or a set of multiple spheres, and the very real three-dimensional spiral formed from curls of hot gas. This spiral is thought to have arisen as a result of the interaction of solar wind generated by small flashes of lights inside, as well as an invisible object for us.

Astronomers were able to calculate the speed of movement of the spiral curls, which they later used to calculate the time of the latest outbreak. At the core of the last burst of light would occur about 1800 years ago. During all this time, the dying star ejected matter was to be a spiral with five turns, now exists within the gaseous envelope that encloses the light.

Mercer and his colleagues believe that the observations of this star in the future might help to understand the evolution of red giants and the impact of outbreaks in their interiors for the production of cosmic dust, which is the basis of future planets.


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