Skip to main content
ad info

 
CNN.com
  spacecorner
  Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

 

  Search
 
 

 
SPACE
TOP STORIES

Mir cargo vessel abandoned

John Zarrella: Lessons learned from Challenger

Last rendezvous for Mir

Beginning of the end for Mir

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

Bush signs order opening 'faith-based' charity office for business

Rescues continue 4 days after devastating India earthquake

DaimlerChrysler employees join rapidly swelling ranks of laid-off U.S. workers

Disney's GO.com is a goner

(MORE)

MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 


WORLD

U.S.

POLITICS

LAW

TECHNOLOGY

ENTERTAINMENT

HEALTH

TRAVEL

FOOD

ARTS & STYLE



(MORE HEADLINES)
CNN TV
EDITIONS

Bizarre Cat's Eye Nebula could see into our sun's future

Cat's Eye Nebula
A color composite of visible light and X-ray images of the Cat's Eye Nebula shows the expulsion of material from a collapsing star in its center  

(CNN) -- A kaleidoscopic bubble of hot gas around a dying star could offer a preview of what happens to our sun, according to scientists.

Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to peer into the interior of the picturesque planetary nebula, astronomers unexpectedly found a central star in the late stages of life emitting powerful X-ray energy.

The X-ray observations of the Cat's Eye Nebula reveal a hot gas cloud around a bright star, which is shedding its material and expected to collapse into a white dwarf in several million years.

MESSAGE BOARD
 

Scientists created this colorful composite of the Cat's Eye nebular using images from Chandra and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

The Chandra observatory detected the X-ray emissions of the central star and interior hot gas cloud, represented in purple. The Hubble observatory detected cooler material in the optical light range, seen as reds and greens, which surround the hot cloud.

By comparing the data from the two telescopes, astronomers can study the interaction between the hot cloud and cooler nebula.

"Despite the complex optical appearance of the nebula, the X-ray emission illustrates unambiguously that the hot gas in the central bubble is driving the expansion of the optical nebula," said lead scientist You-Hua Chu in a statement.

"The Chandra data will help us better understand how stars similar to our sun produce planetary nebula and evolve into white drawfs as they grow old."

Planetary nebulas, formed when dying stars cast off their outer layers, were so named because early astronomers using small telescopes thought they looked like planets.

The Cat's Eye Nebula, about 3,000 light years from Earth, formed about 1,000 years ago. Many scientists think our sun will suffer a similar fate billions of years in the future.



RELATED STORIES:
Milky Way could hold remnants of last galactic 'meal'
January 8, 2001
New space telescopes to hunt for oldest stars, habitable planets
November 28, 2000
NASA image reveals a battle of galactic forces
November 14, 2000
Chandra telescope spots black hole 'missing link'
September 12, 2000

RELATED SITES:
The Chandra X-ray Observatory Center
HubbleSite


Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
 Search   

Back to the top  
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.