In a new study, researchers have shown a surprising new image of the Southern Crab Nebula.
The image was captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and marked the productive telescope’s 29th anniversary in space.
The new finding could improve our understanding of the nebula. The nebula was created by a binary star system.
The Southern Crab Nebula has hourglass-shaped structures and it was created by the interaction between a pair of stars at its center: a red giant and a white dwarf.
Previous research has shown that the red giant is shedding its outer layers in the last phase of its life before it becomes a white dwarf.
Some of the red giant’s ejected material is attracted by the gravity of the white dwarf.
The ejected material is pulled onto the white dwarf and flies outwards in an eruption. This creates the structures we can see in the nebula.
In 1967, the nebula was first reported. In 1989, the object was assumed to be an ordinary star when it was observed with telescopes at the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory.
The image at that time showed a roughly crab-shaped extended nebula, which was formed by symmetrical bubbles of gas and dust.
In 1998, Hubble observed the Southern Crab and captured the entire structure.
It showed that the inner nested structures and suggested that the phenomenon that created the outer bubbles had occurred twice in the recent past.
Researchers suggest that this new image shows that the nebula is an active and evolving object.
It also shows how important is Hubble in our evolving understanding of the Universe.
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