Headlines > News > Picture of the Day - Binary Stars at the End of Their Lives

Picture of the Day - Binary Stars at the End of Their Lives

Published by Matt on Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:29 pm via: Hubble ESA
Share
More share options
Tools
Tags

NGC 2346 is a so-called “planetary nebula,” which is ejected from Sun-like stars which are near the ends of their lives. NGC 2346 is remarkable because its central star is known to be actually a very close pair of stars, orbiting each other every 16 days. It is believed that the binary star was originally more widely separated. However, when one component of the binary evolved, expanded in size, and became a red-giant star, it literally swallowed its companion star.

Binary Stars at the End of Their Lives. Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI).

Binary Stars at the End of Their Lives. Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI).

The companion star then spiralled downwards inside the red giant, and in the process spewed out gas into aring around the binary system. Later on, when the hot core of the red giant was exposed, it developed a faster stellar wind, which emerged perpendicularly to the ring and inflated two huge “bubbles”. This two-stage process is believed to have resulted in the butterfly-like shape of the nebula. NGC 2346 lies about 2,000 light-years away from us, and is about one-third of a light-year in size.

No comments
Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this article!
Leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
© 2014 The International Space Fellowship, developed by Gabitasoft Interactive. All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy | Terms of Use